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Ambulance officer

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Summary of occupation

Paramedics respond to '000' calls, providing emergency pre-hospital care and transporting patients to hospital. On arrival at the scene they assess a patient's symptoms and begin appropriate treatment. Once it is safe to move the patient, they are placed on a stretcher, loaded into the ambulance and transported to hospital, with paramedics continuing to administer treatment throughout the entire process. Paramedics may provide general first aid at large events, such as concerts and sporting competitions. Some paramedics may also be involved in community education programs, such as visiting school children or providing basic first aid training to members of the public.

ANZSCO description: Provides specialised transport services and emergency health care for injured, sick, infirm and aged persons. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names: Paramedic (Aus)
Specialisations: Critical Care Paramedic, Industrial Paramedic, Patient Transport Officer (Aus)
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A paramedic needs:

  • to be physically fit and healthy
  • the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be able to work as part of a team
  • to demonstrate sound judgement and decision making ability in high pressure situations
  • to enjoy working with and helping people
  • high level of communication skills
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Working conditions

Western Australia's ambulance services are primarily supplied by St John Ambulance Australia. There are 24 ambulance centres in the Perth metropolitan region, with a further 160 in country locations. However, the only country locations with fully qualified paramedics are Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Busselton, Collie, Geraldton, Headland, Kalgoorlie, Mandurah, Northam, Norseman and Pinjarra. The majority of paramedics are posted to metropolitan stations, though most are also posted to a country location for up to a year after first qualifying. Paramedics work in shifts, with the usual roster consisting of two 10-hour days, two 14-hour nights and four days off, however, this can vary depending on the needs of a particular station.

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Salary details

On average, qualified paramedics, classified under ambulance officers and paramedics, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 000 per year), depending on their level of training, and years of service. 

Student ambulance officers can expect to earn between $928 and $1 447.32 per week ($48 427and $75 502per year) after their first year of study and upon starting their employment with St John Ambulance Services.

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Tools and technologies

Paramedics use standard first aid equipment, such as bandages, gauze padding, rubber gloves and antiseptics. They also use more advanced equipment such as stretchers and a range of drugs, including high strength painkillers. Ambulances are also equipped with resuscitation equipment, defibrillators (which use an electrical shock to correct an irregular heart rhythm) and a range of other equipment and supplies to treat any injury or illness that they may have to deal with. Paramedics must also wear a uniform.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a paramedic with St John Ambulance WA, you must pass the St John Ambulance recruitment process and complete the four year Bachelor of Science - Health Sciences (Paramedicine), offered by Curtin University of Technology.

To be eligible to apply as a Student Ambulance Officer with St John, you must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident. You must also have at least three years of life experience since finishing year 12.

To work as an ambulance officer in the private sector in Western Australia or out of the State, you need to complete a degree in Paramedical Science. Edith Cowan University offers a three year Bachelor of Science (Paramedical Science).

​Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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