Volunteer Paramedics become the first line of response

Ambulance Victoria develops life-saving App

Ambulance Victoria is in the process of developing a new app that is designed to alert and send members of the community with first-aid training to cardiac arrest cases to start working on patients until paramedics are able to arrive.

As the first of its kind in Australia, this new piece of technology aims to improve the outcomes of Victorian cardiac patients by ensuring the defibrillator is set up and used quicker than previously possible.

Speaking to 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, Ambulance Victoria’s General Manager of Community Services Ian Patrick says, “This response is to send trusted volunteers to start with, that would be, off-duty paramedics, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, surf-life saving members, a group of people we recognise and register.”

Similar pieces of technology are already being used in London, Sweden and Seattle with successful results reported.

The role of volunteer Paramedics in State Ambulance Services

Volunteer paramedics within State Ambulance Services are becoming a vital link between the service and community as demand increases. Rural and remote community are especially reliant on these volunteers paramedics where they are able to provide a faster response to medical emergencies, with early intervention and support for patients.

In Ambulance Victoria, volunteer paramedics hold the following roles (Each State Ambulance Service will be similar to this):

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs)

Members of the Community Emergency Response Teams are notified and dispatched at the same time as qualified paramedics and are therefore able to provide basic emergency care services to the patient(s) until the ambulance arrives. Members of these teams typically live in rural communities that have a low case load or no ambulance station, so are therefore the first line of response (they do not provide transportation).

In 2014–2015, CERTs arrived before an ambulance in 83.6 per cent of cases, illustrating the high value of these teams. At 30 June 2015, there were 27 teams with a total of 404 volunteers

Ambulance Community Officers (ACOs)

These First Responders are employed on a casual basis to provide advanced first aid in remote communities where the caseload is low and the branch is not staffed on a full time basis. ACOs can either work in pairs, or be paired with a single paramedic. ACOs have life-saving skills that they develop and maintain every year. ACOs are trained to provide a support service; they provide early interventions and can transport patients.

During the year 670 ACOs were active in their local communities responding to emergencies and promoting health care.

First Steps – Become a State Ambulance Paramedic

If working as a State Ambulance Paramedic is your goal, then a Degree in Paramedic Science is required. Whilst the Australian Paramedical College does not offer this qualification, we do provide an alternative pathway to a university degree for those who did not have the opportunity to go to university earlier on in their lives. Completing one of the nationally recognised paramedical training courses in most cases means gaining credit point towards your degree which could even save you time and make your transition into university more enjoyable.

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What is your career journey?

To discover how you can become a fully qualified Ambulance Paramedic or Basic/Advanced Life Support Medic, complete a personalised paramedical career development plan.