Local paramedic earns honour for fine service

Dominic Goss was awarded the Ambulance Service medal last week. Photo: Contributed

Josh Farrell

Briagolong resident Bernard Goss was awarded the Ambulance Service Medal last week.

The Ambulance Service Medal, included in the annual Australia Day Awards, is awarded by the Prime Minister for distinguished contributions to Ambulance services across the country.

Mr Goss has had a 41-year career with Ambulance Victoria and served the Sale district since 1990.

The long-serving paramedic brought the How Are You Travelling (HAYT) program to Gippsland in May 2016.

The program provides a safe space for those who work for Ambulance Victoria to discuss their mental health.

“I remember years ago if people had issues they were told to toughen up or change jobs, gladly we have gone away from that,” Mr Goss said.

For Mr Goss, while the HAYT program has only been in effect across the Gippsland region for the past five and a half years, he has used the principles throughout his career.

“There really wasn’t anything around for a long time, but I have been checking up on people for many years,” he said.

“Over the years I have come into contact with paramedics and non-emergency personal who have had mental health issues.”

Mr Goss understood the need for Ambulance personnel to have the opportunity to discuss challenges they face while on the job.

He has found assistance from colleagues Andrew Williams and Frank Abella to implement the HAYT program.

“We work in conjunction with each other, they play a big part in the program,” he said.

“The group meets once a month, it’s low-key if people want to talk about any issues they are having.”

Mr Goss said he uses personal experience to understand challenges that Ambulance workers face during their work.

“I am not trained in mental health, occasionally I would forward people onto services but I am just here to listen,” he said.

Following the 1998 Longford gas explosion, Mr Goss was instrumental in providing post-event support to attending paramedics who suffered the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, well before Ambulance Victoria introduced any formal psychological support service into the organisation.

The biggest recent challenge for Ambulance workers has been the introduction of COVID protocols.

Mr Goss explained paramedics are required to treat all patients as potentially COVID positive, meaning they are in PPE for hours at a time.

“The issue we have is that when you are in PPE like we are it is usually for a few hours … it’s another layer of stress added to paramedics,” he said.

After more than three decades of helping Sale and its surrounding communities, Mr Goss has no intention of stopping.

“I have loved the job I always have, it can be difficult at times, but the satisfaction comes from helping people in their times of crisis,” he said.