This site may not work properly using older versions of Edge and Internet Explorer. You should upgrade your browser to the latest Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, or any other modern browser of your choice. Click here for more information.
This is where we tell your stories, cover topical issues and promote meaningful initiatives
Facilitating courses is Ken's passion
Ken Iles has participated in rescues following natural disasters, been a stand-by paramedic for your favourite reality TV show, and facilitated CRANAplus courses for 14 years. But it’s the remote workforce’s ability to provide care to familiar community faces that impresses him most.
Ken Iles, a rescue and intensive care paramedic with the NSW Ambulance Service for 37 years, happily puts up his hand to say his working life has been like a Boy’s Own Adventure – from attending major disasters to being on standby first-aid duty for TV reality programmes.
But his major passion is as a facilitator for CRANAplus.
“A lot of the time it’s the helicopter crew that gets the kudos for successfully saving lives after accidents. But if it wasn’t for the hard work of the first responders, the local health workers, there would not be any successes,” says Ken.
“I have enormous respect for rural and remote health workers. I can disassociate myself from a lot of things I have done because I arrived and then transferred the patient with care to the hospital. But I didn’t know these people.
“These rural and remote nurses, they will know them or of them, maybe even been at their birth. How they can do their job so
well with that connection is awe-inspiring.”
“One of the things, when we talk about disasters, are the effects on society. When you think of it, even a small incident in a small town will have a significant effect on the town for years to come, for generations.”
Ken looks back at many instances where he’s been impressed with the dedication of rural and remote health workers and recalls one particular story of being called out on a Friday night to a car accident in a fairly remote area with a small hospital where there were a significant number of injuries.
“The nurses and the SES staff and the ambulance staff, they all seemed to be more ‘tidy’ than you would expect. One was wearing gold earrings, another high heels,” Ken mused. It happened to be the night of the local area ball. “They left the ball to come and treat these people who were injured. They put their fun aside and came to work. Selfless. That’s what they are.
“So if I can give back by talking, transferring what I have learned, I see that as a good thing. I was not greedy, not holding onto my knowledge.”
Ken, who has been facilitating Remote Emergency Care (REC), First Peoples’ REC, and Advanced Life Support courses for 14 years, considers the hands-on stations to be invaluable.
“They are a terrific opportunity to teach skills and techniques, and also they allow participants to discuss matters,” he says. “Sometimes people might be overawed in a large group, but when they get into the smaller groups, that’s when they tend to raise concerns. In addition, the hands-on stations allow the facilitator to assess skills a lot better.”
“I’ve had some adventures,” acknowledges Ken, who started his medical career in mental health before moving to the NSW Ambulance Service in Newcastle, first as an ambulance officer, then training in rescues and moving to work on the helicopters as an intensive care paramedic. (Nowadays, the medical person on board has to be a doctor.)
During his career, Ken was involved in rescues following the Newcastle earthquake in 1989 and the Thredbo landslide disaster in 1997. He was invited to go to Israel to work with the Israeli Ambulance Service and trained first responders following the tsunami in Thailand in 2004.
Ken officially retired nearly four years ago, but can’t help himself. Before COVID-19, he worked in first aid at music events and took the opportunity to do standby first-aid work on programmes such as MasterChef, Drunken History and Married at First Sight. He is currently working in the gas production and trucking industries undertaking rapid COVID-19 antigen testing.
But working on the CRANAplus remote workshops will always be top of his list.
Interested in volunteering as a course facilitator? We’d love to hear from you.
Discover another of our facilitators, Keppel Schafer.