Longest-serving Paramedic At Sandgate Ambulance Station Looks Back At His Career

Craig Claassen, Sandgate’s longest-serving paramedic, looks back at his 40-year career at the Sandgate Ambulance Station which its centenary in 2022.

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Mr Claassen started his career as an Honorary Officer at Caloundra. He got a permanent position at Rockhampton in 1985 before moving to Spring Hill in 1988.

Since 1988, Mr Claassen has been serving at Sandgate Ambulance Station, where he has many memorable moments. At the time, they had no equipment and women were not allowed to work in the service, only until 10 years later, when they have become a big part of the service.

Sandgate Ambulance Station
Photo credit: Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS)/Facebook

Mr Claassen remembered the good old days, especially after seeing the photos of the old stations. 

“We used to have the bowls club behind us, and people used to walk straight through the station to the shops on the other side instead of just going around the footpath. You would walk out and find some of the local characters in the middle of the station,” he said.

Although he has many memorable moments at QAS over the last 40 years, his favourite one was the first time he used a defibrillator. 

Sandgate Ambulance Station
Photo credit: Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS)/Facebook

He was at a church in Red Hill and a gentleman had collapsed on the altar. They defibrillated him, got him back and transported him up to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital where Mr Claassen saw him in CCU a couple of days later.

Mr Claassen inspired many people, including his own father who also became a paramedic. In fact, he was the one who trained him as an Honorary Officer. His father, who already retired from service, enjoyed the job as much as he did.

Sandgate Ambulance Station’s Centenary Celebrations

Photo credit: Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS)/Facebook

Sandgate Ambulance Station celebrated its 100th year last November 2022, with barbecue, face painting, and coffee. Vintage ambulance vehicles were also put on display and attendees got to learn some life saving CPR skills from experts.

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Sandgate station originally started out as a sub-centre of the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade at the local town hall in 1922. The first station was located at 137 Brighton Road, in a house called “Laguna,” which was rented to become a temporary station.

Photo credit: Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS)/Facebook

In August 1924, The first purpose-built ambulance station in Sandgate officially opened. The building was replaced with a new one in 1967.

Sandgate Ambulance Station was relocated in 2001 to Bracken Ridge, where it’s currently located.