We support emergency medical response in more remote rural communities through the training, increased treatment options and deployment of our volunteers. We collectively refer to our volunteers as First Responders. Our First Responders, Ambulance Community Officers (ACOs) and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), enable a more timely response to medical emergencies in rural areas, with early intervention and support for patients, while awaiting the arrival of an ambulance.
What does a First Responder do?
As a First Responder you will support Ambulance Victoria to respond to emergencies in rural and remote Victoria, working alongside paramedics to deliver exceptional patient care.
First Responders are dispatched at the same time as an ambulance to a “000” call. Due to their location and proximity to the local community they serve, they will most likely arrive prior to the ambulance. They attend traffic accidents, respiratory and cardiac cases and other incidents requiring emergency care. A medical background is not required as you’ll undertake training to develop and maintain your life-saving skills.
Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs)
Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) are comprised of volunteer First Responders, located in less populated and more remote areas of the state, who are dispatched at the same time as an ambulance in response to a “000” call. CERTs, working in pairs on an “on call” basis, are trained to provide advanced first aid services within their local community and provide immediate care until the ambulance arrives. They do not transport patients to hospital but do provide an emergency response in locations that have a low ambulance caseload and no ambulance station.
Ambulance Community Officers (ACOs)
Ambulance Community Officers (ACOs) are First Responders, who are employed on a casual basis to work “on call” at either a Community or a Paramedic branch. They are trained to provide advanced first aid in rural and remote communities where the ambulance caseload is low, the ambulance branch is not staffed on a full time basis, or where the paramedic is not generally rostered to work with a second paramedic. ACOs are trained to provide a support service to qualified paramedics; they provide early interventions and can transport patients to hospital.
ACOs operating at a Community branch work in pairs and are responsible for providing first response emergency care in response to a “000” call. They may be “backed up” by the arrival of a Paramedic crew but may be required to treat and transport the patient to hospital without a Paramedic.
ACOs who are engaged to support service delivery at Paramedic branches are paired with a single paramedic, providing the advantages of a two-officer crew where this would not otherwise be routinely available due to location. At times, these ACOs may also be required to form an ACO only crew in response to demand to provide first response emergency care.
The availability of volunteer positions is on a “needs” basis as determined by the individual Team Managers. When you have registered your interest, we will put you in touch with the Team Managers of your preferred locations who can advise you of the availability of First Responder vacancies within their teams and tell you more about becoming a volunteer First Responder.
Volunteer First Responders are engaged in 101 locations throughout rural and remote Victoria, comprising 77 ACO teams and 24 CERT.
CERT members must live within 10km of their team location as they do not have a branch building to work out of and must be able to be quickly dispatched to a case.
ACOs work out of an established Ambulance Station and do not have to live near their home team as they can spend their time on call at the station, however, a large number of ACOs do live in the local community.
To volunteer you must:
be over 18 years of age
have a current drivers licence (Probationary is fine)
have a driving check and police check are required
pass a fitness assessment
Both CERTs and ACOs undergo initial training to gain a Certificate II in Medical Service First Response (HLT21015), delivered by our Registered Training Organisation (RTO) to obtain an initial Authority to Practice.
The initial course, including driver training, is delivered using a blended model of on-line learning, face to face learning and practice under supervision during workplace experience, with completion of the qualification within 12 months.
The Authority to Practice must be maintained annually with AV conducting 30 hours of Continual Vocational Education training throughout the year at each team location. In addition, Ambulance Victoria organises several conferences around the state each year to maintain First Responder networks and strengthen skill level development.
The minimum qualification required to volunteer as a First Responder with Ambulance Victoria is the Certificate II in Medical Service First Response (HLT21015). If you hold another recognised qualification, you will be eligible to apply for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) but may be required to complete some units with information particular to Ambulance Victoria equipment, procedures and First Responder clinical protocols.
Our RTO will be able to assist you with further details on your commencement.
Every ACO and CERT must make themselves available for a minimum of 20 hours per month on roster.
Volunteering as a First Responder with Ambulance Victoria is a rewarding experience. You will see people at their worst, in a time of need, and be gratified by knowing your care and compassion has made a difference to someone.
Volunteering with us offers many personal benefits and opportunities including:
Gain new knowledge, skills and the Nationally Recognised Qualification HLT21112 Certificate II in Emergency Medical Service First Response
Enjoy a sense of achievement and fulfilment
Develop personally and boost personal self esteem
Connect with and improve the health outcomes of your community
Meet new people and make new friends.
Enhance your own career prospects
If you are a university student, studying Paramedicine, and have volunteered as a First Responder for a minimum of two years prior to the completion of your degree, your history of volunteering will be viewed positively in your application for a position in the Graduate Ambulance Paramedic (GAP) program (provided you meet all academic requirements).
Ambulance Victoria employees and First Responders are often exposed to traumatic and stressful situations in the course of their work. This can have a negative impact on family, social and work life. Ambulance Victoria actively promotes and supports mental health and well-being in the workplace and offers Chaplaincy, Psychologist and Peer Support to all employees, volunteers and their families.
If you would like to contact the Volunteer Services department to discuss the opportunity to become an Ambulance Victoria First Responder please email First.Responders@ambulance.vic.gov.au