The photo that inspired the ‘final wish’ ambulance service

THE beautiful story of two Queensland paramedics who took a dying woman to the beach one last time has inspired a new service to grant wishes for the terminally ill.

The state government and the Queensland Ambulance Service have teamed up to launch the new Wish ambulance.

It will be used to take Queenslanders who need constant care on important journeys before they die, perhaps to the beach, or to see their grandkids, or to the place where they got married.

Emergency services at their very best. Picture: QLD Ambulance Service/Danielle Kellan
Emergency services at their very best. Picture: QLD Ambulance Service/Danielle Kellan

The service was inspired by the regular acts of kindness Queensland paramedics perform, including the touching story of Graeme Cooper and Danielle Kellan who went out of their way to grant a woman's dying wish in 2017.

The Hervey Bay ambos had been tasked with taking the woman to a palliative care unit at a local hospital when she mentioned her love of the sea.

They took a small diversion, wheeled her out of the ambulance on her trolley bed, and perched it on the foreshore, allowing her to take in one last, long sweep of the ocean.

A photo of the intimate moment went viral. Mr Cooper even used a bag from the ambulance to collect some sea water so the woman could enjoy the salty smell she loved so much.

The new Wish ambulance, to be staffed by volunteer paramedics and run by Palliative Care Queenslander, will do something similar for others from the end of this year.

The service will use a decommissioned but fully functional ambulance donated by the Queensland Ambulance Service, with the government chipping in $55,000 in seed funding.

The Wish service is an Australian first, and has been modelled on a program that began in The Netherlands.

Health Minister Steven Miles says the Hervey Bay story resonated with so many people, but similar acts of compassion and kindness are going on every day. "Our ambos have been doing these kinds of things forever really," he said on Thursday.

"But they've had to sneak around and when they've been busy they haven't been able to do it."


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