What they do
Ambulance officers provide specialised transport services and emergency health care for injured, sick and aged persons. They attend accidents, emergencies and requests for medical assistance, where they assess the health of patients and perform therapies and administer treatments according to protocol. They transport accident victims to medical facilities and transport sick and people with disability for specialised treatment. Ambulance officers may attend large public events, such as concerts and sporting competitions, where accidents and other health emergencies may occur. They also ensure that the ambulances are adequately maintained and stocked with medical supplies.
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 an ambulance officer, you usually need to study a degree in paramedicine.
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. Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
Required registration and licensing
To work as an ambulance officer in Western Australia, you may need to obtain registration from the Paramedicine Board of Australia. You are required to hold a current unrestricted Western Australia ‘C’ or ‘CA’ Class Driver’s Licence from the Department of Transport. You will also need to hold a current First Aid Certificate, you also may be required to obtain a Basic Resuscitation Certificate.