• George Fennemore is the second longest serving Torres Strait Islander paramedic in Queensland. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
The Cairns community has celebrated George Fennemore for his 30 years of saving lives in the Queensland Ambulance Service.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
15 Nov 2021 - 5:14 PM  UPDATED 15 Nov 2021 - 5:16 PM

George Fennemore loves to help people, so starting a career in the Queensland Ambulance Service was an obvious choice for him.

"I wanted to be in community and helping people," the Torres Strait Islander man from Erub Island told NITV News.

"I took it on as just a job initially and I found my feet so to speak, settled in and I've been here ever since."

 

That was 30 years ago. Now based at Edmonton, near Cairns, Mr Fennemore is the second-longest serving Torres Strait Islander paramedic in the state (beaten only by a matter of weeks). 

His dedication has been celebrated, with a ceremony presenting his 30-year and 25-year service medals held in Cairns.

Surrounded by family, friends and collegues Mr Fennemore said it was an emotional day.

"I'm a bit overwhelmed," he said.

"It's a big day so I'm overwhelmed and excited."

'Well deserved'

Yidindji man, Claine Underwood, who is from Yarrabah, has known Mr Fennemore since they were cadets together in the 1990s. He said he's proud of what George has achieved, and that he deserves to be celebrated. 

"(The medals are) very well-deserved," he said.

"He's not only a respected Indigenous paramedic but he's a respected person across the whole ambulance service."

Mr Underwood, and many of Mr Fennemore's colleagues describe him as a quietly spoken man, with a big heart, also noting that he's mad on his footy (NRL).

 

"From day one we were good friends," Mr Underwood said.

"George is that kind of person you gravitate to. He's a big man, a big presence even though he's quiet in nature.

"He's got a dry sense of humour... and he's such a genuine person too. That's what I think makes him a great paramedic."

 

For Mr Fennemore, there are some days in his career that stand out starkly.

One of those days is the day he was called out to attend to six-year-old Tjandamurra O'Shane, who had been set alight in a Cairns playground in 1996.

"It was my first really traumatic job, he was a young child, Tjandamurra O'Shane, when he got burned by fire," he said.

"That was pretty emotional for me, having children myself back then."

Mr Fennemore said a lot has changed in his time as a paramedic. He's grown into the job over the past 30 years, and he's looking forward to continuing helping people.

"In the beginning, when I started, it was hard for me to look people in the eye because as a sign of respect you don't look your Elders in the eye," he said.

"Now I can do that comfortably. I've developed that over time.

"When I'm helping people in the community, they can relate to you better like when they see you're an Indigenous person, they open up to you more.

"Having that rapport, and being able to speak language, you can know where they're coming from and how they're feeling."

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