Less than two years after joining the NSW Ambulance Service, local man Owen Johnson is exactly where he wants to be, home in Bingara.
Born and educated in Bingara, Owen completed his HSC in Warialda. He started working at the former Bingara Shire Council, worked briefly at the sawmill, then returned to Council where he was the pool manager for a couple of years.
Owen started as a probationary officer with the Ambulance Service in October 2006, with eight weeks training in Sydney.
Since then he has been stationed at Tweed Heads, Tamworth South and at Ashford. He is now a Paramedic Level 2.
When the position became available because officer Phil Sweet was transferred back to Sydney, Owen and his wife, Kylie, a Bingara girl, did not hesitate in accepting.
"I am very pleased to have Owen back here working," Station Manager, Rodney Blackburn said.
"I knew when I worked with him in his role as an SES member that he could make a good Ambo," he said.
Owen spent 15 years as a valued member of the Bingara SES where worked alongside Ambulance Officers.
"When I was on my own at the station, I used the SES. I was very lucky to have a the best SES crew in NSW to help me out," Rod Blackburn said.
"The local knowledge of the Johnson brothers, Owen and Billy, was very helpful, because they knew all the roads."
"Bingara is very fortunate to have a local boy at the Ambulance Station who will stay for a long time.
"Owen’s local knowledge is invaluable. It is a pity all towns don’t have a home produced Ambulance Officer," Rod said.
Next year, Owen will take another three week course and sit an exam to become a Level 3 Paramedic.
New look uniforms
The uniform which has been the recognisable face of the Ambulance Service of NSW has changed.
Paramedics in the Western Division including Central West, Macquarie and Far West and New England begun wearing a new on-road all blue operational uniform from Saturday March 22. They will now join their colleagues from all across the state who will be wearing the new uniform.
The design of the new cargo pant and shirt will allow easy access to conveniently placed pockets, which will benefit on-road paramedics on a daily basis as they carry out their duties in changing environments.
Baseball caps and beanies have been issued to all on-road paramedics to provide relief from sunlight and cold weather.
Over recent years, Ambulance has upgraded the operational jacket (with removable sleeves), belts, safety helmets, boots, shirts, thermal undergarments, wet weather jackets and pants, and safety vests to complete the new look.
Operational mangers and paramedics working in an office setting will continue in their traditional uniform (white shirt and blue pant).
The introduction of the new uniform marks another important milestone, a name change for the operational officers, in line with ambulance services around the world. The highly qualified ambulance officers will now be referred to as paramedics.