Opening Address at the KJ McPherson Education and Research Foundation Annual Symposium
Commissioner Bowles; Commissioner Atkinson; our polymath Patron, Major General John Pearn; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. I am most honoured to have been asked to make the opening address at the KJ McPherson Education and Research Foundation annual symposium.
Like many fellow Australians, I hold our dedicated paramedics in genuinely high esteem – it is no surprise at all that they have topped the Reader’s Digest list of our community’s most trust professions for at least ten years in a row.
In times of crisis, our ‘Ambos’ respond with the best of human qualities – as I can attest from personal experience.
Symposia like today’s occasion ensure that they also respond in lock-step with best practice, and with technologically innovative care in mind.
Very recently, I visited the Longreach Ambulance Centre: I was most impressed by the highly skilled capacity of those officers to minimise the tyranny of distance in dealing with emergencies at far flung outstations. The Queensland Ambulance Service is to be admired and congratulated for bringing first class services to all parts of the State – indeed, like the police, like emergency services… I will revert to this.
This is very much consistent with the KJ McPherson Foundation’s raison d’etre: providing research funding to place Queensland at the cutting edge of education and research into pre-hospital emergency care.
The need for continuing advancement in this area becomes ever more acute as Australia ages, with half the population over 65 suffering from a chronic illness, and one in five suffering from two or more.
Queensland has long been in the forefront of innovation in pre-hospital care.
I am reliably informed – I say as much, relying as I ought to on one of our inimitable Patron’s many scholarly articles on these topics – that the first civilian ambulance service in Australia and New Zealand was established in Brisbane in 1892.
In one of those quirks of coincidence, the impetus for that was a horse-riding accident at the Brisbane Exhibition – just across the road from where now stands Queensland's largest tertiary hospital, the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, which incidentally will be celebrating its 150th anniversary next year.
In Australia, the name that has become synonymous with early first aid is, of course, the Reverend John Flynn, whose face looks out at us from the twenty dollar note.
A few decades before he founded the Royal Flying Doctor Service he produced a booklet called 'The Bushman's Companion'.
At that time two thirds of the country had no access to a doctor or nurse.
The booklet contained a section on 'First Aid to the Injured', which was based closely on the 1901 UK edition of the St John Ambulance Association’s first aid book.
Flynn’s booklet became the cornerstone of first aid at a time when the provider of first aid was often the injured or ill themselves.
It is a long way from nineteenth century first aid in the Outback to the highly-skilled professionalism of the modern paramedic.
But although the focus may have shifted from horse-riding injuries to freeway accidents, the need for innovative responses to pre-hospital care remains, and it is a challenge that the QAS – and indeed this Foundation – readily accepts; and I commend the organisers for focussing this year’s symposium on ‘Opportunities and Innovation’.
Quite on point, I was very pleased just last week as I have said, during Regional Government House in Longreach, to be briefed by Superintendent Gavin Farry on the transformative Paramedical Coronary Reperfusion Strategy – or more simply for the lay-folk here tonight, the administration of clot-busting drugs prior to hospital admission!
In the field of pre-hospital care, inspiring individuals have always made a difference.
This very Foundation is named after a young man who lost his life in the course of his work.
His personal character and his interest in research inspired others to start a foundation in his name, and the Foundation in turn inspires others to research and innovate, especially through an extensive grant program.
But the greatest inspiration of all are the paramedics themselves, and the administration which ably supports them.
Our paramedics are venerated by all who come in contact with them.
They inspire young people to follow in their footsteps.
They bring life-saving help and comfort to those who are injured and ill.
The work that is done on days such as today contributes enormously to their ability to do that, and I now thank the organisers, and the Foundation’s Committee, Patron, and many generous sponsors and benefactors.
And that is why it is my great pleasure to declare the KJ McPherson Education and Research Foundation annual symposium officially open.
Opening Address at the
KJ McPherson Education and Research Foundation Annual Symposium