Ambulance officer

What they do

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.

Specialisations include: Patient transport officer

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.

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.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a student ambulance officer with St John Ambulance WA, you must pass the St John Ambulance recruitment process and study the three-year Bachelor of Science in Paramedicine at Curtin University.

To become an ambulance officer in the private sector, you need to study a health science degree in paramedicine or equivalent. Edith Cowan University also offers a three-year Bachelor of Science (Paramedical Science).

Contact St John Ambulance, or the universities you are interested in, or, for more information.

Required registration and licensing

To work as an ambulance officer in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Paramedicine Board of Australia and hold a current unrestricted ‘C’ or ‘CA’ class driver’s licence from the Department of Transport.