THERE’S a business in the middle of Campbell Town that even the locals walk by without a second glance – yet it’s helping keep people safe all over the world.
Emergency ID Australia founder and owner Nicole Graham started the business 18 years ago after seeing first-hand a need for medical information to be more readily accessible to first responders.
Emergency ID Australia offers a range of personalised identification products, including bracelets, necklaces, and other accessories that can be engraved with information that could potentially save valuable time and even lives.
In her home state of New South Wales, Nicole worked for 13 years as a police officer and attended many incidents where both the patients and emergency services could have benefited from more medical knowledge.
This includes information relating to medications, allergies, pacemaker, disabilities, emergency contacts, PTSD, diabetes, epilepsy, medicated blood thinners, autism, communication difficulties and many more – all important
but unknown if someone is unconscious or unable to speak.
Nicole also had an intellectually disabled uncle who was hit and killed as a pedestrian by a drink-driver. Unfortunately, he lay all night in the morgue as an unidentified person, as he had no ID to advise who he was, where he lived and who needed to be notified.
“And as a police officer I don’t know how many times I was tasked with knocking on doors, because someone was deceased and didn’t have any identification on them other than a driver’s licence with an address – sometimes I’d knock on doors and then wait until they got home at night to tell them the bad news,” she said.
Then at just 34, Nicole had a serious heart condition requiring open-heart surgery and time on life-support and in intensive care.
The doctor advised her to wear medical jewellery, yet the options were only from overseas organisations and limited, and definitely not a fashion accessory for a young person. This was when she started her ID business with just a laptop on her dining room table and what she describes as “five terrible products”.
The online business grew, improved and excelled, guided by the requests from customers. Emergency ID Australia now has more than 500 quality products and has been independently judged, winning numerous business awards, including Business Woman of The Year, Excellence In Innovation and many more.
Just last month the business was a finalist in the Australian Small Business Champion awards.
“We might be in a small rural town in the middle of Tasmania but we’re a world leader in our field,” Nicole said proudly.
“My son came home from school the other day and he noticed his teacher was wearing one of our bracelets and he told her his mum makes them.
“She said please thank your mum because this bracelet has saved my life.”
The warehouse-come-factory is right between the chemist and the bottle shop in Campbell Town, and it’s usually just Nicole and her two employees Kathy Maloney and Lesley Tyrrell, who do all the engraving on more than 8000 items per year.
Before moving to Tasmania the mother of three had long been passionate about advocating and improving mental health awareness, and was a Speaker for Beyond Blue for seven years, telling her personal story of battling the Black Dog. Nicole assisted the NSW Police Force and Beyond Blue by being on working parties and advisory groups for her experience as a “lived experience” advisor, providing valuable input into the management of mental health within Emergency Services throughout Australia.
Nicole also held the position of president of the board of AUSBUY – The Australian Companies Institute, where she led the board in promoting the need to support Australian Owned businesses throughout Australia. She has also held other positions on boards and committees throughout the years.
While the Emergency ID business has travelled with her to Campbell Town, it was actually the love of an old church that makes her stay.
The Church, as it’s now known, has become a home for Nicole and husband Garry, a mine supervisor with Hazell Bros, and following eight years of hard-won battles with planning authorities, a pandemic and breast cancer, the
former St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, on the northern end of the town, is ready for Nicole’s next venture – as a tourist destination.
The stained glass windows have been restored, the grounds planted with trees, and the interior upgraded to become a place for weddings and events and as a base for walking tours and vintage car shows.
The interior walls will be a giant slide show of Tasmanian heroes like Ricky Ponting and famous visitors like Prince Charles and Lady Di and the retail section will specialise in quality Tasmanian produce and products.
Planning approval to operate as a business is finally going to Northern Midlands Council next month.
Nicole said she wouldn’t be happy unless she was pushing herself, and she can’t wait to open The Church to the public.