An author from Lake Macquarie in New South Wales is using her experience as a paramedic as the foundation for a new children’s book series.
Rachael Woolley, 43, has lived all around the world and visited most continents over her lifetime.
However, she has always called Warners Bay home. She has worked as an opera singer, florist, builder, carer and paramedic.
But it is her latest role — author of the Band Aid Betty’s First Aid Adventures series — that is one of her most exciting challenges.
From cruise ship to published author
The process for Ms Woolley’s Band Aid Betty character coming to reality in her first book, Mrs Daisy’s Singing in the Rain, started aboard a cruise ship when she was holidaying.
She attended a lecture on self-publishing and was inspired to turn her idea of teaching children about basic first aid into a book.
After using an online website that offered services to edit and illustrate books, the character was born, resplendent with red curly hair, funky jewellery and a curvy figure.
They almost crushed me, big time. There were moments where I couldn’t get out of bed; I couldn’t go to work, and people just ignored it.Rachael Woolley, author
“I [had] wanted to write a book more about my life, because I’ve had such a full life, and I’ve been very fortunate in my life,” Ms Woolley said.
“In the character now, I see [it] being the autobiography I wanted it to be. So Band Aid Betty is going to get on a plane and go to Nepal and to India and China, and she’s going to say hello to everyone. She’s going to say hello in all the languages I speak.
“Whenever I travel and say hello to people, I connect with them, and that’s what I want Band Aid Betty to teach children to do — to connect with people.”
Ms Woolley had the book printed in Australia, and is now selling copies in order to fund her next book in the series, which will be about treating someone in anaphylactic shock.
Arming children with knowledge to stop bullying
Having seen a wide range of first aid incidents during her career as a paramedic, Ms Woolley wants children to be able to learn to care for others.
“I guaranteed that whatever patient I had, for whatever condition they had, I made sure that live or die, they wanted me to be the person holding their hand,” she said.
“They wanted to leave this world knowing who I was, because I would give them 100 per cent, if not more.
“I want to bring that out into a story book where children make other people feel important.
“We live in a world where everyone is scared to touch each other, and they’re scared to help each other, they’re scared to smile, they’re scared to be around people.”
After joining the ambulance service in 2003, Ms Woolley said she endured years of bullying in the workplace.
She said it was the reason she left the service in late 2010.
Still carrying the experience in her memory, Ms Woolley said she wanted children to learn how to stand up against bullying.
“It was either be silent or violent. No one ever taught that middle ground. I want to be able to teach children what that middle ground is: have your rights, but do it respectfully,” she said.
“They almost crushed me, big time. There were moments where I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t go to work, and people just ignored it.
“My managers expected me to go back to work and be treated like that day-in, day-out.
“Then I had to go away and do courses to better myself because I was the silent person, I would keep my mouth shut.
“I had to learn what that middle ground was — to say ‘no’ to bullies and to be able to defend myself, and so I want other people to learn that.
“I want other people to learn to say no to horrible people, but do it respectfully, have their own rights heard.
“I want children to learn to defend themselves, and by parents reading this book to them when they’re little, or older, parents also will learn how to have rights but treat people respectfully.”
High hopes for future Band Aid Betty stories
With a whole range of story ideas yet to be explored, Ms Woolley said she hoped to write further Band Aid Betty books.
“Regardless of what’s happened in my life, for good or for bad, I feel like this is a new lease to life,” she said.
“It’s a new chapter in my life to become an author. It’s something you only dream about, like being a princess or something.
“It’s a character that I hope people are going to love, [that] it’s going to be like Humphrey B. Bear or Big Dog, that people are just going to remember it with comfort.
“So it’s not just going to be my book, it’s going to be their book as well.”
What an excellent idea. I cant believe there are not more children’s first aid books out on the market. Well done. We look forward to having more young people in our first aid courses in Canberra.