By Derek Schlennstedt
Ambulance Victoria recently celebrated 30 years since women were first accepted as paramedics.
Back then, in 1987, the all-male ambulance service would claim that women weren’t capable of carrying the heavy end of the stretcher and other such excuses.
Since then, however, that theory has been disapproved, and today more than 45 per cent of paramedics are women.
Ambulance Victoria CEO Tony Walker said the milestone in the last week ofJuly was significant not only for female paramedics but for the entire ambulance workforce, and said that in a few years women would outnumber men in the service.
Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy said females made up 57 percent of graduate applicants and the trend was set to only increase.
Over her career, Hannah Drysdale a clinical instructor and ALS Paramedic at the Emerald Ambulance Station has saved many lives, but still on regular occasions receives disapproving comments from patients.
“You still constantly get comments … depending on who it is, you just laugh it off,” she said.
“I’m working with a female graduate at the moment, and I’m the clinical instructor … we got three comments in two shifts.”
But Hannah said she never took the comments personally, and while it was frustrating said that quite often the general comments were positive, and was thankful to work in an organisation that took equality so seriously.
“Most of the time people are accepting and proud that women are in the job … overall the service has definitely improved and everyone is equal.”
“You’re never going to get away from the comments, but I don’t think it’s a disadvantage, and if anything, it makes it easier when you go to lots of jobs where a female is needed, just as much as other jobs where a male is needed … depending on the circumstances.”
“The culture in Australia and across the world has very much changed in that women are a big part of the workforce, and I think it shows we’re just as capable as men.”