Redlands firefighters and paramedics recognised for service beyond their job

FOUNDER: Station officer at Cleveland fire station Shane Gilchrist has been recognised by Rotary for having co-founded Shed 27 in Capalaba. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough
FOUNDER: Station officer at Cleveland fire station Shane Gilchrist has been recognised by Rotary for having co-founded Shed 27 in Capalaba. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough

THREE Redlands firefighters and two paramedics are being recognised for their service to the community.

The firies, together with police officers, ambulance service personnel and State Emergency Services volunteers, were given essential service awards by the Rotary Club of South Brisbane on Monday.

Paramedics John Bradbury and Jeff Bickford will receive long service medals at a presentation on Friday next week as part of Ambulance Week.

Started in 2012, the Rotary awards recognise officers who provide a service over and above their normal duties.

Redlands-based station officers Shane Gilchrist, Adrian Pilkington and Graham Wells were among the recipients.

In addition to his fire service duties at Cleveland fire station, Mr Gilchrist co-founded the Capalaba-based not-for-profit Shed 27 two years ago to help youth at risk and other people in need.

Various activities are run from the premises with older tradies passing on skills to youth in automotive restoration and certificate programs also offered.

One of Shed 27’s programs provides a week-long adventure for high risk teenagers every school holiday for five years as long as the participants are attending school and meeting other requirements.

There is no cost to youth who participate in the programs so Shed 27 relies on grants, funding and donations.

The organisation also generates income by selling cars, tools, trailers and other products that are restored or custom built.

Mr Gilchrist said the holiday program, called Sail Away, which was run prior to the establishment of Shed 27, had seen youth turn their lives around and come back as mentors to other teenagers.

“Most of the kids have not had a good start in life and to experience someone who cares for them and takes an interest in them for five years means a lot to them,” he said.

Adrian Pilkington, a station officer at Capalaba fire station, has been involved extensively in training new recruit firefighters partly at the ‘live fire academy’ where they learn about real fire conditions.

His training at the academy and for the training and emergency management department is conducted in addition to his shift work.

Mr Pilkington has also trained external organisations and members of the public.

RECOGNISED: Station officer Adrian Pilkington, of Capalaba fire station, received an award from the Brisbane South Rotary Club. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough

RECOGNISED: Station officer Adrian Pilkington, of Capalaba fire station, received an award from the Brisbane South Rotary Club. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough

His training includes a maritime course, compartment fire fighting, gas valve isolation and running fuel fires.

Mr Pilkington started as a rural firefighter in Grantham in 1994 and went on to receive his station officer qualification in 2007.

The third recipient, Mr Wells, is the Brisbane region’s iZone officer responsible for the rural-urban interface and partnerships with stakeholders such as government at all levels, private industry and local communities.

Mr Wells, who has 21 years of service, focuses on ensuring communities are bushfire prepared.

His most recent deployment was to the Tasmanian wildfires earlier this year.

Paramedic John Bradbury, who is stationed at North Stradbroke Island, will receive his 20-year long service medal from Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) and a 25-year National Medal.

He started with QAS 26 years ago this month after interviewing an ambulance officer when he was a radio disk jockey in Longreach.

“I thought it was a really cool job,” he said.

LONG-SERVICE: North Stradbroke Island paramedic John Bradbury has worked for Queensland Ambulance Service for 26 years. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough

LONG-SERVICE: North Stradbroke Island paramedic John Bradbury has worked for Queensland Ambulance Service for 26 years. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough

Having asked a friend how to join, Mr Bradbury quit his job the day after the interview and headed for Brisbane.

“I have never worked a day in my life since then. I absolutely love what I do.”

Mr Bradbury said changes in the job had meant paramedics were able to do more to assist patients before transporting them to hospital.

Mr Bradbury also teaches students at Queensland University of Technology.

However, he said helping people was the most rewarding aspect of the job.

“To see the look of relief on someone’s face when you walk in their house with this uniform on...I am pretty proud of it.”

Working on Straddie for the last three years, Mr Bradbury is either on duty or on call for seven consecutive days.

He said it was challenging to work on his own, but there was co-operation with medical practitioners, police and volunteers on the island.

Redland Bay-based paramedic Jeff Bickford will receive a 30-year long service medal.

Mr Bickford was a founding member of the Redland Bay station in 1999.

He has also taught survival at sea courses at Sea World, helped as a paramedic at a car rally, helped with helicopter airlifts and worked at single-officer stations in outback Queensland communities.

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