Gold Coast emergency services still working at holiday time
WHILE most of us are taking a break from work over Christmas, anyone in the emergency services can expect to be on the roster.
Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic Inspector Pat Berry will be on duty from December 24 to 28 as senior operations supervisor at Southport station.
After 30 years as a paramedic, he's resigned to giving up family time when others are making merry.
"Christmas Day is another mark in the diary," Pat said.
"The triple zero calls will continue to come into the call centre.
"I have a great family who've made a lot of allowances over the years.
"Predominantly I'm here to look after my people and liaise with key hospital managers.
"I'm a sort of 'conductor of the orchestra'."
As much as Pat tries to control his emotions when dealing with Christmas tragedies, he empathises with affected families.
Finding Christmas presents in a family car that's been in an accident can be confronting, as well as tragic events at family get-togethers.
"I do recall going to a cardiac arrest, nice old chap. It was a one-in-30-year family celebration.
"He had a chance to see grandkids he'd never met before.
"There's always mixed emotions when you're dealing with others' misfortunes on a day that's supposed to be happy.
"It's a lonely time for people. There's an elevated suicide rate.
"Everybody's like an eggshell; everybody can be broken."
For Pat, Christmas with his own family is "when my wife tells me to fit it in".
With her birthday close to the festive season, that's often the main celebration date.
Dozens of medics make up the crews on call over Christmas, and their shifts can each range from 10 to 12 hours.
"The work is so varied and you get such an enormous sense of achievement out of what comes out of it," Pat said.
"Ambulance work is a precious resource and one that is in high demand."