Husband-and-wife team Dieter and Penney Lang jointly make up the ambulance service in Injune in southwestern Queensland.
Story By Kerry Wehlberg
Imagine being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Then go one step further and imagine your partner is in the same situation, in the same job. Dieter and Penney Lang thrive on it. This husband-and-wife team make up the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) in tiny Injune, southwest Queensland. They began working together in Townsville, where they were part of a much bigger team, but now there’s just the two of them at the town’s two-ambulance station.
“In the city our workload was higher but when you go home you’re off duty, with no expectation of being called back,” Dieter says. “Here in the country we’re on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Everyone knows we’re the ambos and we can expect a knock on the door any time.”
Dieter was born in Germany and emigrated to Tasmania when he was six. Thirteen years later he moved to Queensland. Penney’s childhood was spent in Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast. They met while working in Townsville, then moved to Bowen and have spent the past four-and-a-half years in Injune.
Between them they have a raft of experience. They’ve treated broken limbs, attended numerous accidents and have transported many different patients. They once rescued a man with a broken leg from remote Carnarvon Gorge, carrying him on a stretcher for three kilometres. “Carrying the patient across rocky-stream crossings was a challenge,” Penney says.
The couple’s shift schedules mean that for part of each week they work alone and at other times they’re in the office together. However, depending on the nature of an emergency call, they’ll both go out, allowing one to drive and the other to tend to the patient in the back.
Being on standby at all times means Dieter and Penney can never relax with a beer after work or enjoy a glass of wine over a shared dinner – things which most of us take for granted.
This story excerpt is from Issue #53
Outback Magazine: June/July 2007