Our History | Push for an ambulance in Yass

NEW HELP: Ambulance Officer Donald J Ross displaying the new Plymouth Chrysler ambulance bought in 1939 in front of the Triggs Gates. (Image YDHS Archives)
NEW HELP: Ambulance Officer Donald J Ross displaying the new Plymouth Chrysler ambulance bought in 1939 in front of the Triggs Gates. (Image YDHS Archives)

Like our nurses, ambulance officers are on the frontline of emergency support whilst the rest of us are comparatively safe in isolation.

If you are a town resident, the sound of the ambulance siren occurs often enough for us to take our ambulance service for granted. It wasn't always so.

As early as 1901 Dr Phillip Thane of Yass spoke of the necessity which existed for getting an ambulance for the hospital, and instanced cases where "very great inconvenience was experienced because of the incomplete method of bringing patients up to the institution".

This was never truer than in September 1930 when a Dodge truck carrying Goulburn football supporters, rolled three times just four miles out of Yass.

With one person killed, the eleven injured, one critically, were conveyed to Yass hospital in the Goulburn city bus which had been travelling behind the lorry. Mr Abbey Raynor assisted by carrying injured in his motor lorry.

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There had been rumblings in 1929 about the need for an ambulance in Yass.

The local doctor was expected to convey accident victims in his own car or police carried the poor victim in the police truck to the hospital.

At the Municipal Council meeting in September, the health inspector Mr J A Kilpatrick volunteered to garage and drive the ambulance if "the public subscribed and bought an ambulance".

CRASH, BANG: An early motor vehicle accident, the forerunner of the thousands of accidents attended by Yass Ambulance. (Image YDHS Archives)

CRASH, BANG: An early motor vehicle accident, the forerunner of the thousands of accidents attended by Yass Ambulance. (Image YDHS Archives)

Concerns over cost to the community, already stretched in supporting the hospital, were vigorously debated. Support vacillated over the next eight years.

It was officially announced that approval had been received for the establishment of an ambulance station at Yass to be opened by July 1, 1937.

Goulburn Ambulance officer Mr Ross explained "the ambulance district took in eight to nine thousand people. It extended from Gunning to Coolac and to Burrowa boundary, Rye Park, Blakney Creek and Dalton and out to Wee Jasper on the other side."

However, Yass would start off with an ambulance and the station could come later.

TAKING UP THE MANTLE: Donald J Ross, the First Superintendent of the Yass Ambulance Service. (Image YDHS Archives)

TAKING UP THE MANTLE: Donald J Ross, the First Superintendent of the Yass Ambulance Service. (Image YDHS Archives)

At the Police Ball in July 1937 it was announced that the new Hudson Terraplane ambulance with the latest equipment including three stretchers, a thermos flask, splint box and small oxygen plant, had arrived and was debt free as local public donation had paid for it in three months.

Socials and balls were held throughout the district including at Binalong, Murrumbateman and "Edgerton", the Johnston property on the Yass river and this became the pattern of enthusiastic support from the Yass district.

Mr Ross became the long serving Ambulance officer at Yass. He reported in the last six months of 1938, there were 278 cases attended to, driving 8,374 miles.

The ambulance had proved its value. Call outs were obviously many and various.

In October 1937 Mrs Dowling was taken into the polling booth on an ambulance stretcher to cast her vote before delivery to the hospital.

That afternoon she was operated on for acute appendicitis!