Record numbers of women are choosing a career as a lifesaving paramedic, 30 years since the first female paramedics hit the road in Victoria.
Ambulance Victoria is a leader in the traditionally male-dominated emergency services sector, with women now making up 47 per cent of Ambulance Victoria staff.
And this number is increasing significantly with females today making up about 57 per cent of graduate paramedic applicants.
Those figures come as no surprise to Seymour-based paramedic Leanne Gardner.
‘‘It’s a fantastic job to be in, and I think for woman in Ambulance Victoria, the opportunities are limitless,’’ she said.
Ms Gardner worked a range of jobs — mostly health related — before deciding that a job as a paramedic was her calling.
Now, 10 years on after graduating from university, she says she loves every minute of the job.
‘‘It’s unpredictable, and that’s one of the exciting things about it,’’ Ms Gardner said.
‘‘You don’t know what you’re going to encounter on any given day, every day is different.
‘‘One moment you might be assisting an elderly person, then you are doing something completely different the next.’’
While women are now commonplace in Ambulance Victoria’s ranks, it wasn’t always the case. A 1980s occupational health and safety regulation banning women from lifting more than 16kg in the workplace previously precluded them from joining the service.
The first two women started their on-road training with the ambulance service on July 27, 1987 after the government waived the regulation, and new lifting procedures opened the door for female recruits.
Female paramedics now fill all types of roles, including key leadership roles such as MICA paramedics, team and group managers, and in corporate management.
‘‘There’s so many different roles within Ambulance Victoria, and so many opportunities to progress,’’ Ms Gardner said.
‘‘I definitely don’t think there’s any limitations for females in the role either. It really is a fantastic job to be in.
‘‘I think what I enjoy the most is the colleagues I’ve met throughout my career, we have a great sense of camaraderie, and I’ve come across some extraordinary members of the public too.’’