From Band-Aids to band aid

Kevin Chong said he feels fulfilled by his paramedic duties. 162896 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Casey Neill

Springvale paramedicine student Kevin Chong would be an unhappy engineer if not for St John Ambulance.
The charity helped the 24-year-old to discover his true passion in life.
“I initially started in engineering. I didn’t know what else to do at the time,” he said.
“Towards the end I was getting the sense that this wasn’t really what I wanted to do.
“I wanted a career that would allow me to help people.”
Mr Chong finished studying, took a semester off and volunteered with various organisations.
“I eventually ended up with St John just by chance, really,” he said.
The charity was offering “all this training” and Mr Chong thought he could pick up some important skills.
St John requires volunteers to contribute 60 hours each year to remain a member.
“I ended up finishing that in the first month or two,” Mr Chong said.
“I just found myself enjoying it so much, just interacting with patients.
“Being able to help people and seeing the effect right away, compared to engineering when you don’t really get to see the results for yourself.
“I just kept going since then.”
An incident on a train in late 2015 was the final push he needed to sign up for paramedicine studies.
“I had a bloke next to me, he was with two or three friends, I think,” he said.
“Suddenly I noticed him begin to doze off. Then he started going into a seizure.
“Through my training I was able to stay calm.
“I immediately called the driver and told him to stop at the next station.
“I positioned the guy to make sure he had a clear airway.
“I kept an eye on his breathing and heart rate, just monitored him until the station staff and ambulance turned up.
“It was an eye-opening experience.
“Around that time I was thinking of perhaps going into paramedicine.
“It was a trigger, I guess.
“It confirmed that this is something I actually want to do.”
Mr Chong is now heading into his second year of paramedicine studies and continues to volunteer with St John.
He recently attended British rock band Coldplay’s sold-out Melbourne concerts.
“I was able to see most of the show,” he said.
He said one patient fell ill at the first show and had to be taken to hospital.
“She came back the second night and thanked us for helping her,” he said.
Mr Chong attends many Greater Dandenong events where most patients need a Band-Aid or help with a headache.
“The serious stuff normally comes from dance parties and sporting events,” he said.
“It might be a bit daunting for people who haven’t come from that background.
“You always have more experienced people with you and they can guide you.”
St John Ambulance has been servicing Victoria for more than 130 years and provides volunteers with full training.
No prior skills are required and there is no cost to join.
Visit for more information or to register interest.