While Nikki Platt hasn’t lived in Hedland very long, her impact on the community as a volunteer paramedic has been critical, helping in countless emergencies and advocating for people experiencing mental health difficulties.
When Nikki and her husband moved to Hedland just before the pandemic hit, she found it harder to find work, so she looked into volunteering.
Before long, she was putting 40 to 50 hours a week into volunteering at the St John’s depot, rising through the ranks of training to become an Emergency Medical Responder, the highest level of volunteer.
Now, she’s studying nursing and paramedicine full-time while also keeping up her volunteer hours.
Nikki said she had always wanted to be either a police officer or a paramedic after a traumatic accident claimed the lives of her friends when they were in their early twenties.
“I didn’t end up going to the party because I was unwell, and there was a motor vehicle accident involving two of my friends. Three people ended up passing away,” she said.
“I was from quite a small country town, and it really rocked the community.”
In regional communities like Hedland, volunteer paramedics and ambulance officers are critical to the service, which generally operates with more volunteers than career paramedics.
Nikki also supports people experiencing mental health issues, having developed trust with people over the years simply by checking in and asking if they’re okay. Through her voluntary work, Nikki has developed a solid network of friends and supporters in the community.
“Everybody seems to have each other’s back up here,” she said.
“It’s funny. I wasn’t too fond of it when I first got here. But, by the end of our first dry season, I found it a lovely place – it’s very tight-knit.”
Without volunteers in services like St John’s or the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, many people would not have made it in emergency situations.