Ambulance Tasmania


Not everyone is suited to becoming a Volunteer Ambulance Officer.  But for those who are, it can be a life changing, and a life affirming experience.

Dianne - Strahan

Being a volunteer ambulance officer (VAO) means watching the babies I delivered grow into healthy toddlers in my community; it means seeing the look of relief on the faces of family as I walk in the door with the ambulance equipment; it means giving dignity and support to the old and frail people in our community.

Being a VAO also means attending the death of a close work colleague and trying not to have to look at her lifeless body; it means hanging around while faceless people in offices and hospitals far from us argue about the destination of a patient; and it means doing a middle of the night ambulance job and going off to work after too little sleep, only to be interrogated on the case by colleagues looking for gossip. It's the best and most worthwhile job I've ever done and my fellow VAOs are the best team I've been part of.

Nola - Coles Bay

Here I sit in Northern Queensland having a few months break from being a VAO on the East Coast of Tasmania from October to May. I have just enjoyed a glass of wine knowing that I will not have to rush out on a call and need to be functioning on all cylinders! Yes, there are a few negatives to being a VAO but to me they pale into insignificance beside the positives. I love the challenge of working in a team and aiming to do the very best we can in any given circumstance. Where we volunteer, it seems there are never two cases the same, so you are always challenged to be versatile and do the very best for your patients. It is the best feeling to know you have done the most you could possibly do in any situation, but sometimes, on reflection, you wonder if you should or could have done something differently.

The very hardest thing for me is being woken from a sound sleep and having to switch my brain into gear - hit the floor running, answer the pager, get dressed, think about what is needed as I drive to collect our ambulance, try to figure out where the patient is located and lastly how I am going to act in the most professional manner I can in the middle of the night!

The best thing is knowing you have the support of your other volunteers around you and the satisfaction of applying your knowledge to often save a persons life.

Marg - Avoca

The realities: the pager goes off during a meal or just as I've settled down to watch a good movie and the worst time is around 4-5am when my body clock says 'sleep'! In a small town the reality is also that I'll know the patient although this can also be a bonus. Training can become a bit 'same as' from time to time, but it's so necessary when we're not doing the job on a regular basis.

The rewards: there is so much satisfaction in being able to help someone when they really need it, whether it's a 'lights and sirens' job (the minority) or just a relatively routine transport, the latter is just as important for the patient and family concerned. One of the jobs I remember most was transporting an elderly lady back to St Marys hospital, to be back with her family, she had tears in her eyes as we drove closer to home. I have learned skills that will never be wasted and I have grown in confidence; it has been a very rewarding 20 years.