He started out as an apprentice carpenter, but work experience with his mum—a palliative care nurse—inspired Navy partner Pat Lasalo to change direction and start on the path to becoming a paramedic.
“As an ambulance officer, doing those patient transfers, I loved sitting in the back chatting with the patients and listening to their stories,” Pat said.
“Once I qualified as a paramedic I wanted to try something different,” said Pat. “I was a bit of a city slicker and wanted to go out rural. A position came up in Mount Isa and I jumped at it.”
A remote and isolated single officer station, it was vastly different to the work and facilities Pat was used to in the city, but he loved it.
“You’re a part of the town and you are connected to the people,” he said.
That was the start of Pat’s bond with rural Australia. After a year in Mount Isa, he moved to his current position in Yarrabah, a small Indigenous community about an hour’s drive east of Cairns. As a shift worker, Pat does eight days on and six days off. He works ten-hour days and is on call for 14 hours overnight. When he is working he lives in the community but he balances his work-life with military life now. Pat met Navy wife Makaila in 2011 during a night out in Brisbane.
“In the Navy there are always changes and new challenges, and she thrives in that type of environment.”
Working and living away from home is one of those challenges, especially with a young family and Makaila working full-time. The couple look at the benefits it presents them and their two daughters Moana, 2, and Fusipala, 20 months. Pat is also extremely supportive and encouraging of Makaila’s career.
“This is what she has done since she was 17 and she loves it. She is a great mother and role model and, being a mum first and foremost, she is showing her daughters that you can do anything you put your mind to,” Pat said.
“I really had no idea what it meant to be a Defence partner. I hit the ground running when Makaila was deployed to the Middle East!”
With Makaila soon posting to HMAS Adelaide and moving to Sydney, Pat and the girls are moving to Yarrabah. Without family close by, the Lasalos have developed a support network made up of friends, the local community and other Defence families.
“I’ve learnt from Makaila that you create a family of your heart. You choose to have who you want around you. We are trying to provide a great life for our daughters and live an extraordinary life rather than an ordinary one.”
This article has been condensed for web viewing purposes. Complete version can be found in Defence Family Matters
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