The call-outs that really get Julie Miller’s heart racing are the ones involving children.
As the team leader for the Community Emergency Response Team covering Granya to Bellbridge, she often beats the ambulance to emergencies.
But when she arrives on-scene, her instincts and training take over.
“The first time I did CPR on a real person, I remembered driving home and thinking wow, it was so automatic,” she said.
“I acknowledge it’s not for everyone, but sometimes in an emergency people can feel really useless and having the skills means in those sorts of situations, you actually know what to do.”
Ambulance Victoria is seeking more North East residents to sign up to become CERT members or ambulance community officers.
Both roles require similar training but ACOs are paid and must work a minimum of 20 hours a month.
Ms Miller said while an ACO could transport patients to hospital, paramedics would take over from the CERT group once they arrived.
“When the ambulance gets called out here, we get called too,” she said.
“We do everything from people who are sick to vehicle accidents and farm accidents – really anything.”
The Berringa CERT team averages about one call-out a week, with the Chiltern team being the busiest in the area.
There is also a Walwa team, and there are ACOs in Beechworth, Myrtleford, Tallangatta and Corryong.
Ms Miller said there were 24 members when she started 11 years ago, as part of the second ever intake.
“When I moved here, I was doing something one day and thought, if anything happened, you’re a long way from help,” she said.
“It’s helping your own community; if we don’t get too many call-outs it means the community is well, but it’s also becoming part of a team.
“In the years we’ve been going, we’ve had something like 58 people trained, but because of work commitments and people moving away, we’re constantly looking for members.
“As team leader I’m really proud of my team, the commitment they give and the skill level they’ve built up over time.”
Upper Hume team manager Michael Atkinson said their contribution was irreplaceable.
“ACOs and CERTs are members of our community, have a genuine community spirit, and an interest in patient care,” he said.
“We need more people to put their hands up and get involved to help locals in their time of need.”
Candidates for both roles are required to undertake a police check, driving check, medical assessment and referee check.
For further details contact Upper Hume group manager Ian Hunt on (03) 5723 6602.