Centennial milestone for Tongala AV volunteer

A Loddon Mallee Ambulance Victoria (AV) First Responder is being celebrated for attending 100 cases as a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteer.

The Tongala CERT tracks the number of cases its members attend and Team Leader, Anne Church, said her daughter and fellow volunteer Kirsten Wright reached the centennial milestone last month.

Kirsten said the milestone was extra special as it was achieved working alongside her mum.

“It’s a nice feeling to say I’m doing it for not only the community, but also supporting my mum in something that she loves,” Kirsten said.

“Some of the highlights of being involved in the CERT have been attending community events with my mum, like laying wreaths for ANZAC Day.”

Kirsten and Anne.

CERTs are made up of volunteer First Responders and are located in less populated and more remote areas of the state. CERT members work on-call and are dispatched in pairs at the same time as an ambulance.

Kirsten said overall she’s motivated by a desire to give back to the community.

“That’s the spirit that my parents have taught me and it’s really important because Tongala is the town I grew up in,” she said.

“It’s amazing what happens when you walk in the door of someone who has called Triple Zero (000) – people realise they’ve got help and they suddenly relax.

“Some of the people that I’ve cared for have been people that I’ve grown up with and it’s really nice to be able to assist them in their time of need.

“Of my 100 cases, some of them have been very simple and some have been really full-on, but each one, you’re just making sure you’re reassuring people that you’re there for them.”

Kirsten’s mother Anne was a founding member of the Tongala CERT almost 17 years ago and said she has attended more than 1200 cases.

“I’m really proud of Kirsten for getting to 100 callouts,” Anne said.

“She initially joined the CERT to support me in getting to 1000 cases and I’m very thankful to her for that.

“Not many people get to work with their kids once they’re adults and it’s just great working and being with her.”

As CERT members typically live in the community they serve, they are usually first on the scene and provide emergency care until the ambulance arrives.

CERT members don’t need to have a medical background – which was the case for Kirsten, who works full-time as a school teacher.

“We’ve got some fabulous trainers that come out once or twice a month to keep us up to date and educated to the right level,” Kirsten said.

“Not coming from a medical background, the training is fantastic to help us feel confident.”

Kirsten said she feels privileged to be a volunteer for her local community.

“It’s such a valuable thing to volunteer and help your local community out,” she said.

“It’s very rewarding and we need more volunteers in our communities in general.

“I’d recommend people do consider it.”

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