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Celebrating our frontline workforce this Thank a First Responder Day

June 11, 2024 | in News

Ambulance Victoria (AV) is celebrating its highly skilled paramedic and first responder workforce this Thank a First Responder Day, on 12 June. 

Thank a First Responder Day honours first responders and their families, calling on the community to show their appreciation to local first responders by simply saying ‘thank you’. 

Paramedic Elliott Matotek is on the frontline for Mildura in two ways, through his role at AV as well as volunteering for the local State Emergency Service (SES) Unit. 

Elliott began his career in healthcare as a nurse, after studying a double degree in nursing and paramedicine. 

In 2021, he made the switch to an on-road paramedic and said he enjoyed the new challenge.

A paramedic standing proudly with his parents.

Elliott and his parents at his AV Graduation.

“My favourite part about AV is attending jobs that are never the same – all patients have different presentations or complexities,” he said. 

“It means you have to think on your feet and rely on your assessment skills to find out what’s wrong.” 

When Elliott became a paramedic, he also had six years of experience in the SES under his belt, where he volunteers alongside his dad and brother. 

He said this experience helped with making the switch. 

“Particularly when it comes to road crash rescues, being in SES gave me a good understanding of things like the extrication of patients and how each service operates,” he said. 

“The SES had also given me a lot of opportunity to take on incident management roles, which gave me skills to bring across to AV.”

Now, Elliott is Unit Controller of Mildura SES as well as a paramedic and Clinical Instructor at AV. 

He said he enjoys the overlap of the roles. 

“The easy answer is my favourite thing is helping people,” he said. 

Thank a First Responder Day, led by Fortem Australia, is a day to show our gratitude and appreciation for the first responders in our community, for the work that they do to keep us safer.

AV has a broad range of roles within the organisation, including Qualified Paramedics, Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) Paramedics, Flight Paramedics, Bicycle Response Unit, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers, Ambulance Community Officers (ACOs), Wilderness Paramedics and Aquatic Paramedics, as well as other specialised roles.

Four paramedics are standing with the Governor of Victoria.

Elliott with colleagues from both his roles, meeting the Governor of Victoria during her visit to Mildura in April 2024. Pictured L-R: Mildura SES volunteer Oliver Matotek, Elliott Matotek, Governor of Victoria The Honourable Margaret Gardner AC, and AV Mildura Acting Senior Team Managers Bronwyn Lambert and Quentin Norton.

AV Executive Director Clinical Operations Danielle North said Thank a First Responder Day is an opportunity to celebrate all of AV’s teams but also a reminder of the importance of first responder wellbeing. 

“Today we say thank you to all our crews for everything they do, around the clock and across the state” she said. 

“But beyond saying thank you, it’s a day to consider how each of us can continue to support first responders to do their vital work. 

“First responders all too often face violence and abuse on the job. 

“For our paramedics and first responders to provide treatment to you or your loved one, they need a safe environment to work in. 

“We ask all Victorians to help our paramedics and first responders care for the community by being respectful towards them and, if you are involved in an emergency incident, doing your bit to assist.” 

Danielle said AV has a number of wellbeing and support services on offer. 

“Our paramedics and first responders regularly attend confronting and traumatic incidents, as well as sometimes facing occupational violence,” she said. 

“I urge all AV staff and their families to reach out and make use of the services on offer, which include peer support, 24/7 counselling, pastoral care and more.”  

Fortem is Australia’s leading mental health and wellbeing support provider for first responders and their families. 

For more information, visit Thank A First Responder Day.