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Life as an RSPCA Animal Ambulance Driver

Wildlife Animals Community Speaks Rescue Volunteering
Volunteer Jeff describes what it's like to volunteer in the Logan City Council Animal Ambulance for the RSPCA.
What's life like being a Logan Volunteer Animal Ambulance Driver?

I’ve been a Logan Volunteer Ambulance driver for just over five years now. I was retired and looking for something to do and saw on Facebook that they were looking for Volunteer Ambulance Drivers, so I decided to give it a go. It has since changed my outlook on animal welfare. 

Some of the things you see aren’t too good but generally very interesting. For example, the other day I picked up ring tail triplet possums. Twins are quite common with possums but triplets are pretty rare - it’s only the second lot of triplets I’ve seen since I started. 

rspca volunteer jeff rescues possum

Did you have any prior experience with animals before volunteering?

Not really, not in the way I now do with the RSPCA. I’ve always been interested in animals, particularly wildlife but before I started volunteering I hadn’t had much experience with rescuing.

As an Ambulance Driver, what does your job involve?

A big portion of my job is van preparation. I make sure to look after the van, wash and change the towels in it and keep supplies stocked, particularly pouches for baby possums. That’s incredibly important because juvenile possums must be kept warm at all times. Some of these babies will only have a little bit of fur so it’s vital they’re warm. If one is found, you put it in a pouch and then in your shirt to keep it warm. Sometimes my partner comes with me and if so, she will put them down her shirt but if not then I will. 

There’s all sorts of different processes you need to do with different animals. I’m not able to handle snakes and koalas but often come across dogs, cats and birds.

rspca animal ambulance driver volunteer jeff

In your opinion, what is one of the biggest challenges with being an Animal Ambulance Driver? And what is one of the biggest rewards?

One of the biggest challenges is looking after some of the wildlife you pick up. Some injuries are horrific! This is the same for domestic animals you may rescue. I remember four years ago we found an American Staffy whose whole body was covered in mange, cracked and bleeding. We took him back to Wacol and it was the worst case they had seen.  Three weeks later, I saw a photo of it chasing balls. Seeing him recovered and running was a joy.  

I also had a great moment a few weeks ago – I got to release a lorikeet after we had nursed it back to health. The moment the box opened, it was gone. Watching it fly away was incredibly satisfying. That would be the greatest reward, seeing animals have a new start in life.

becoming an rspca animal ambulance driver queensland

If members of the public find an injured animal, what is the best action they can take?

If they can’t get it to a vet then definitely call the 1300 ANIMAL RSPCA number - 1300 264 625. If you’re not sure of the animal or confident handling it then definitely leave it where it is but just keep an eye on it and ring the RSPCA. It’s also super important to assess the situation. For example, if there is a mother with a baby in a pouch and the mother has passed or is close to it, cover it with something (a blanket or towel is preferable). Doing this will hopefully keep the baby warm until help arrives.

volunteer jeff rspca animal ambulance rspca queensland

Can you share a positive story with us?

Not long after I started volunteering, I had a pelican rescue at Swanbank power station. The bird had fallen over the spillway, had broken its wing and couldn’t get back into the main part of the dam. When I reached the scene, I couldn’t reach the bird without endangering myself so I had to call the fire brigade.

We eventually managed to get the bird to safety, helped it recover and released it back into the wild. Things like that make it all worthwhile. 

When you're not Volunteering on the Animal Ambulance, what would you likely be doing?

I go to a men’s shed regularly and do extra Volunteer Ambulance Driver shifts if needed. And then there’s always the great grandkids – they definitely keep us busy but we love them!

If you'd like to become a Volunteer Animal Ambulance Driver for RSPCA Queensland, apply here today!

lauren hope bickley

Lauren Bickley
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