A domestic assault victim whose life was saved by paramedics, a former army nurse, and a woman following in her grandfather’s footsteps are among 135 paramedics officially graduating at a ceremony in Melbourne today.
“This is a new generation of paramedics who come from rich and varied backgrounds, and are part of the transformation under way at Ambulance Victoria,” said CEO Associate Professor Tony Walker.
“We know the impact our paramedics have on our community, delivering outstanding health outcomes each and every day,” Associate Professor Walker said. “Thanks to the work of our paramedics and first responders we are, on any clinical measure, one of the world’s best ambulance services.”
“This group of paramedics is entering a new and future-focused workforce, registered professionals who are part of a leading edge and progressive organisation, “Associate Professor Walker said.
“They will see progress in the area of technological change that will make us even more efficient, effective and connected.”
“These graduates are part of an Ambulance Service that provides prehospital healthcare service and is an intrinsic part of the health system. They provide triage, paramedical and specialist care in ways that every person they care for experiences the best possible care,” he said.
“It is also important that we look after ourselves and our people.”
“We know that providing a supportive work culture is like giving everyone in the organisation a mental health inoculation and we know that early intervention helps us all stay fit and well, on and off the job.”
“A unique aspect of our supportive culture is the Peer Support Dog Program and I am absolutely delighted that it is expanding.”
“In all my time in Ambulance Victoria, this program is one that has fundamentally shifted the way our people are encouraged to speak out about how they are feeling,” Associate Professor Walker said.
“Today’s graduates are part of a very special organisation – one committed to supporting them as they deliver the most fulfilling community service there is.”
Today’s graduating paramedics include:
Luanne Willingham – Luanne chose to pursue a paramedic career after surviving domestic assault.
“Paramedics saved my life, so the best way to thank them was to become a paramedic, and do for someone else what paramedics did for me. I feel that my life now has validated what happened and my recovery from it. I believe everything in life is a reflection of what you have been through. For every negative there is a positive.”
Interestingly Ms Willingham’s son who was five at the time of the assault is now 23 and a serving police officer who was also inspired by the help his mother received.
Emma Campisi – Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Colin Hicks, Advanced Life Support Paramedic in Robinvale with more than 40 years’ service. Ms Campisi says watching and working with him as an Ambulance Community Officer was all the inspiration she needed. The Ambulance service is very different from Mr Hicks early days when it was a basic pick up and run service. “Everything has evolved from the medications we administer, the technology available and the ability to give the best care to our patients,” he said. Mr Hick will be in the audience.
Steven Barrie – A former Nursing Officer in the Australian Army, Mr Barrie is now following his father’s path. His father is a MICA Paramedic in Foster and his mother a nurse unit manager, midwife and Ambulance Community Officer.
According to Mr Barrie, the best experience as a paramedic is the impact you can have as a first responder. “You are able to make a real difference to members of the community, you are at the point of injury when every decision has an impact on the outcome for that patient,” he said.
Molly Trumble – Ms Trumble trained in Fine Arts but the desire to be a paramedic was stimulated by seeing the care Ambulance Victoria paramedics gave a family member and ex-partner, who are both very sick. She wanted to provide care and attention to whoever required it where she could. Ms Trumble now says: “This job satisfies me in more ways than I thought. Both in the work I do, and in the ability to help people at what is often a crucial time in their life; this is their crisis. It exposes me to so many different situations and challenges while continually pushing me to learn and develop my skills.”
Kim Baker – An Ambulance Community Officer who made the decision to become a paramedic, aged 14, when her ill grandfather spoke glowingly of the care given to him by a paramedic. It was how his eyes lit up when he told the story of a female paramedic who helped him and who he had great admiration for, that clinched her ambition. Kim’s grandfather was in the Merchant Marines “As a tribute to him, I have had a ship wheel engraved next to my name on my stethoscope so he is always with me on the job.”
Emily Apolito – In her final year of study, Ms Apolito recognised heart attack symptoms in her father, called 000 and gave him aspirin. He went into cardiac arrest after paramedics arrived and Ms Apolito was able to assist paramedics. He has since recovered and will be in the audience.
Hamish Sloane – Survived a serious mountain bike accident at age 15 which led him to study paramedicine.
Mr Sloane says: “The paramedics seemed very relaxed, cool calm and collected.”
“At the time I thought they were the coolest guys in the world and I thought, ‘I want to do that’.”
Amanda Altman – Amanda is a popular cast member of the Paramedics TV series. She originated from Sydney and previously worked in hospitality.
Of today’s 135 graduating paramedics 127 have all completed a university degree and have spent at least 12 months on-road before becoming Qualified Ambulance Paramedics. Eight have undertaken further study to become MICA Paramedics.
There are 82 women and 53 men, who are working in branches across the state with 25 based in regional Victoria
The Graduate Ambulance Paramedic (GAP) program is in its seventeenth year. The first program in 2002 had 18 graduate ambulance paramedics (all from Victoria University).
Graduate Ambulance Paramedics initially work under supervision of clinical instructors to assist with the transition from the classroom to the ‘real world’ and integrate into day-to-day team responsibilities and activities.
After completing the Graduate Ambulance Paramedic program, paramedics continue training for their entire careers. This continued professional development ensures Ambulance Victoria paramedics are able to provide the most up-to-date life-saving interventions and stay safe while they are doing so.
MICA Paramedics complete post graduate programs through Monash University as part of a contract that Ambulance Victoria has with the institution. Graduates receiving their Authority to Practice certificates at this year’s ceremony have successfully completed MICA Paramedics – Graduate Diploma in Emergency Health (MICA Paramedic).