From volunteer to life-saving driver for CareFlight

From volunteer to life-saving driver for CareFlight

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Tom Cluff in front of his CareFlight patient transport van.

Tom Cluff in front of his CareFlight patient transport van.

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Volunteer work and good old-fashioned work ethic got 20-year-old Tom Cluff his position as a Patient Transport Driver for Careflight.

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Volunteer work and good old-fashioned work ethic got 20-year-old Tom Cluff his position as a patient transport driver for Careflight.

The young NT resident is now being highlighted as an example of how volunteering can be a pathway into paid positions after starting out in a Careflight mascot suit raising donations.

A spokesman from Careflight said his previous volunteering experience was what got Mr Cluff's foot in the door.

"Hanging out at the Beer Can Regatta and wrapping Christmas presents are not things that are typically included in a job application," he said.

"But that's exactly what 20-year-old Tom Cluff included in his when he applied for a job at CareFlight - and he got it," the spokeswoman said.

Mr Cluff and fellow patient transport driver Rob Albanesi both began their career in a volunteer capacity inside the iconic Careflight bear-suit.

The organisation observed his careful dedication to a task many would disregard.

Tom Cluff in his 'CareFlight Bear' suit.

Tom Cluff in his 'CareFlight Bear' suit.

After months of volunteer work, he traded the bear suit for a CareFlight uniform and transitioned into full-time employment as part of the Palmerston Inter-Hospital Road Transport Service team.

"While his previous experience as a pizza delivery driver helped him secure the role, it was his dedication as a volunteer that got him over the line," CareFlight relationship development officer Kylie Goyen explained.

"I had seen Tom work tirelessly to help raise vital funds for the organisation. So, when I got the call to provide a reference for him, I was able to vouch that he was the perfect candidate for the job," she said.

Co-worker Rob Albanesi also began his CareFlight career as a volunteer in the bear suit.

"I was working in retail and started volunteering with CareFlight because I wanted to be part of an organisation that saves lives," Mr Albanesi said.

"After meeting the team and hearing their stories, I decided I wanted to work there."

Mr Albanesi now works alongside Mr Cluff transferring patients needing specialist treatment from Palmerston Regional Hospital to Royal Darwin Hospital - a busy service which operates 24/7.

"When people think of CareFlight, they think of helicopters and planes - but the organisation does much more than meets the eye for many Territorians," Ms Goyen said.

"And while many of our core the services are supported by government, delivering our mission depends heavily on community support and fundraising.

"Our volunteers are an essential part of that, each year they help us fund-raise so we can invest $1 million to operate the Top End Rescue Helicopter."

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