Three QAS officers recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Peter Solomon, the Officer-in-Charge of Texas Ambulance Station.

Paramedics often toil above and beyond for their peers, patients and communities, and three of the Queensland Ambulance Service’s (QAS) finest are being celebrated after being announced as Ambulance Service Medal (ASM) recipients in the Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours List.

The QAS recipients include Sandra Cowley, a Critical Care Paramedic at Capalaba Ambulance Station, Denis O’Keefe, the Officer-in-Charge at Sunnybank Ambulance Station, and Peter Solomon, the Officer-in-Charge of Texas Ambulance Station.

Sandra Cowley, who began her career at Cleveland Ambulance Station in 1991, has worked across a variety of roles including Area Manager, Officer-in-Charge, Area Director, Clinical Support Officer and Critical Care Paramedic.

Her Critical Care Paramedic qualification allows Sandra to provide invaluable clinical care and as a result colleagues often seek her leadership and advice when treating patients on the frontline.

Sandra said her motivation stems from doing the right thing by the patients.

“Patients ring us at their worst possible moment, whether we have seen worse or not, so I try to make things that little bit better for them or for their families,” she said.

“As long as I can walk out at the end of the day knowing I did everything possible for everyone I’ve seen, it’s worth it.”

Denis O’Keefe has consistently demonstrated his exemplary dedication for nearly four decades after commencing with the QAS as a course coordinator in 1981.

Since then, Denis has undertaken a variety of roles during his career including Regional Ambulance Educator, Area Director, Clinical Deployment Supervisor and his current role as Officer-in-Charge.

“I enjoy the variety of work, the people and that there is always a challenge,” he said.

“It makes me proud that I have made a difference over 40 years in the ambulance and it’s nice to be recognised for that.

“The highlight is that I have been nominated by my peers and that makes it very special.”

Peter Solomon has become a mainstay of his Darling Downs community after nearly 13 years responding as a single officer in the small border town of Texas.

In his role as Officer-in-Charge, Peter provides an invaluable service to the region and has continually shown a commitment to providing care to rural communities over a period of 18 years. His continued dedication and commitment are highly valued by the Queensland community, his peers and the QAS.

Humbled and surprised by the award, Peter said working in a small town presents unique challenges.

“The community are genuinely appreciative of the service we provide and will always lend a hand where they can,” he said.

“Apart from the day I qualified, this is probably the highlight of my career.”

QAS Commissioner Russell Bowles said the QAS was extremely proud of the ASM recipients and their achievements.

“All three officers are held in high esteem by their peers and exhibit a genuine desire to positively impact their patients and the wider community,” Commissioner Bowles said.

“This prestigious award is a mark of recognition for Sandra, Denis and Peter’s dedication over long and distinguished careers.”