Our People | Alan Warburton
A Claims Assessor in Suncorp’s Motor and Property sector, Alan spends a great deal of his working week on the road, supporting customers in regional Queensland. While no two days are the same, an afternoon in July 2020 will stay with him forever.
A normal day for Alan means spending long hours in the car, visiting customers—often at their home—right across the southern Queensland countryside, where no two days are the same.
“I’m normally out on road for most of my day carrying out site visits to customers. In this role you see people at their most vulnerable; anything from an elderly customer who has had their home broken into and had items stolen, to meeting builders on site to see how repairs are going, to visiting a young family who have just lost everything from a house fire,” Alan says.
“It can be very difficult, and while you never know what tomorrow will bring, being able to help them and see the difference you’ve made is a really great feeling”.
In stark contrast to even the most challenging days Alan faces in his role, none compare to what started out as a seemingly ordinary day in July 2020. Beginning as a visit to a customer’s property on the outskirts of Toowoomba ended in a life or death situation, where the slightest change in events would have surely ended in tragedy.
“The customer, Mike* and I had agreed a few days prior to meet at the property at 1pm,” Alan recalled.
“I made my way to the property, leaving from Dalby in the west. As I was driving, I passed a ute with a distinctive red cage parked on the side of the road – which I didn’t think much of at the time”.
Arriving at the customer's property slightly early, Alan waited 15 minutes before calling Mike, as by this time it was after 1pm. His wife Rose answered and had advised that Mike should have arrived back at the property by now.
“In that moment I instantly recalled the ute I’d passed on the way toward the property, and when Rose confirmed it was her husband’s vehicle, we knew something wasn’t right”.
I always try to be prepared for the unexpected when I’m on the road but helping to save someone’s life is a first for me.
I can’t help thinking what might have happened if it hadn’t been me on the assessment that day. A colleague travelling from the opposite direction could have been assigned to visit the property and who knows how things would have turned out.
While Alan hurriedly made his way back to where he’d seen the ute, Rose asked their daughter (who lives nearby) to drive to the spot to meet both men. “When we pulled up, we found Mike unconscious in the driver’s seat; he had suffered a diabetic episode and we quickly called for urgent medical help”.
“We managed to get Mike out of the car to provide first aid while we waited for the ambulance to arrive,” Alan recalled of the frightening situation. “The medics arrived quickly and took Mike to the hospital. It turns out he had been unconscious in the car since about 9am, and by the time we found him it was after 2pm”.
Thankfully, Alan and Mike’s daughter acted quickly, ultimately saving his life.
The family later wanted to thank Alan in person, meeting to express their gratitude for his help that day. While together, they told Alan that Mike had been about 20 minutes from losing his life, cementing the gravity of the event and how lucky Mike had been.
“This was very confronting to hear. I can’t help thinking what might have happened if it hadn’t been me on the assessment that day. A colleague travelling from the opposite direction could have been assigned to visit the property and who knows how things would have turned out,” said Alan.
“I always try to be prepared for the unexpected when I’m on the road but helping to save someone’s life is a first for me,” Alan said. “I was just so pleased to be there to help and make sure Mike received the urgent care he needed.”
*Customers’ real names have been changed to protect their identities.