A tree, a knee, IT and trailriding
You’re invited to meet our Heart of Australia operations manager – Chris Wilson.
Forty-four-year-old Chris has the deceptively simple job of keeping the HoA travelling specialist medical clinics rolling – on schedule – thousands of kilometres a month across Southern and Central Western Queensland.
He’s the go-to man for problems that arise as the clinic-on-wheels is pushed to meet patients referred by GPs based in more than a dozen rural communities – patients who are often travelling long distances from homes, businesses, mines, farms and grazing properties across the West.
“It’s simple in one way,” Chris says. “My job is all about keeping things going, ensuring that our truck is there where patients will be waiting for their specialist doctor appointments”.
“One way to describe what I do is that I oversee the mechanics of Heart of Australia.”
“And I can tell you that we’ve had our share of what I call interesting scenarios. But you just get in and get it done.”
Chris, an IT man to his bootstraps, has been with HoA almost from its beginning, having been “on board” from just a few weeks before the service was launched in October 2014.
And his introduction was unplanned. He was for a time a neighbour to Heart of Australia founder, Dr. Rolf Gomes, and was intrigued by Rolf’s description of his “dream” of taking specialist medicine to the bush via a specially outfitted semi-trailer.
“I was impressed by Rolf’s determination and I got very interested in somehow being a part of a groundbreaking idea,” Chris remembers.
Some might think that strange for an IT man but he joined Rolf in “the dream”, helping to put IT equipment into the road rig, then boarding the truck to help keep the electrical equipment up and running – along with admin work for the roadside clinics – and more mundane issues such as airconditioning breakdowns.
Born in Papua New Guinea, where his Dad worked for decades, Chris – the youngest of six children in the family – started with horses.
With a Bachelor Degree in Equine Business and an Associate Diploma in Horse Management from Orange in NSW, Chris started on a career anchored on horses.
That’s where the trailriding comes in. Chris loved trailriding and started teaching children in the wonders of riding and equine management.
One day, on a students’ ride, a tree fell on the trail and in helping to extricate a student, Chris suffered a serious knee injury.
So … in recuperation, Chris decided to study for professional IT qualifications through QUT in Brisbane and was then offered a job by one of his tutors.
Now, less on-the-road but just as busy with Heart of Australia , Chris is working with Dr Rolf on plans for expansion of the service across the state.
Although a bit cagey when asked to nominate his favourite town on the HoA bush clinics regular schedule, Chris says: “We meet wonderful people at every stop … there’s something about the people and the place – I really like Goondiwindi”.