High honour for Port Pirie first-aider at Government House

Lynette Pole's wish is husband Ian's "command".

The newly-decorated Mrs Pole - who has become a St John Commander - outranks Mr Pole who is also high in the service.

Mrs Pole joined St John first-aid service in 1966 and Mr Pole followed a year later.

"He used to out-rank me in the operations side, but then he stepped back into the division where I have been in charge for a good few years," she said with a smile.

"I outrank him in both the order and the operations branch."

In a ceremony at Government House, Governor Hieu Van Le invested Mrs Pole as Commander under the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.

It was in recognition of her service to St John with a citation saying she is a "professional and reliable leader" who encourages people to be "active first-aiders".

Mrs Pole accepted a black mantle - like a cloak - featuring the white Maltese Cross of St John with the royal beasts, the lion and unicorn, adorning the cross.

The beast insignias were granted by Queen Victoria.

St John attends events around the district to provide emergency first-aid. The service responds to everything from cuts to broken bones to head injuries.

"When we lived at Port Germein, we used to respond to car accidents on the highway in the middle of the night," Mrs Pole said.

"We had young children so Ian's parents would look after them and we would head off until the ambulance could get to the crash scene from Port Pirie.

"There have been a few nasty accidents out there.

"There was also an incident in midweek netball when a child was choking on a lolly. I am unsure what would have happened if I had not been there to get it out."

Fires and floods also need St John help. At the Bangor bushfire in the foothills in 2014, Mrs Pole was a commander and received a bronze commendation.

She summed up her work as "just helping people".

Her division comprises seven adults including the Poles.

"We are a team. I do a lot of the administrative work," she said.

"Rex Court trains our personnel. He is now a volunteer ambulance officer."

Mrs Pole is grateful to whoever nominated her for the award and thanked her early mentors.

"In the 1960s, my Superintendent, the late Mrs Saxby, had a shop in Solomontown. There are quite a few other members who taught me so much and encouraged me," she said.