Prepared to Care

Nancy Wallbank’s First Aid Kit

Nancy Irene Wallbank (1910-1981) of Dudley, New South Wales, was in her early 30s when she became a registered National Emergency Service (NES) Warden. During WWII, as airstrikes began to feel like an imminent threat throughout Australia, the NES formed to prepare communities for possible air attacks on Australian soil and train volunteers to assist if they occurred.

Nancy volunteered to become a Warden and, as a result, received intensive first aid training. Her wish to better serve her community was probably instilled by her father, Albert Wallbank (1887-1953), who was the town’s sole police constable while also volunteering for the NES. In the event of an attack in her area, Nancy was expected to grab this provided bag and race to the scene where she would assist anyone who had been injured.

To tell her kit from others, Nancy wrote her initials underneath the top flap of the bag. Her kit once contained a wide range of first aid materials but only some, such as a field dressing and set of bandages, still remain with the bag. Several of the instructional booklets given during training sessions were also kept and each one has her handwritten notes.

Although air attacks did occur in northern Australia, the fears of air attacks in NSW were never realised. For all her preparedness, Nancy thankfully never needed to use this first aid kit bag as a result of war, but the missing contents of the kit may suggest that her invaluable first aid knowledge became very useful throughout her life.