Ararat Ambulance Victoria branch marks 30 years of women joins ranks of paramedics

Ararat paramedics Kristy McMahon, Karina Hauenstein and Amy Morcombe. Picture: PETER PICKERING
Ararat paramedics Kristy McMahon, Karina Hauenstein and Amy Morcombe. Picture: PETER PICKERING

THE end of July marked 30 years of women saving lives while out on call with Ambulance Victoria.

If one Ararat female paramedic had her way, last month would be the last time milestones like that are treated like a big deal.

Advanced Life Support Paramedic Kristy McMahon said she hoped the next anniversary did not rate with people.

“It shouldn’t be noteworthy, because men and women are equally able to do this job, it’s not gender specific,” she said.

“I think it will be a fantastic day when it’s not relevant and it’s not noteworthy, and that day will come for sure.”

In July 1987, Andrea Wyatt became one of Victoria’s first two female paramedics in Melbourne and soon after, Melissa Buckingham was the first and only female paramedic in rural Victoria.

Ms McMahon started as a full-time paramedic about 12 years ago.

At that time, many people would openly express surprise when she arrived on scene.

“I started as a community officer here in Ararat in about 2004. In 2005, I started on the road full-time,” she said.

“It definitely wasn’t commonplace to see female paramedics, at the time, to the point where it was common to be treating a patient and have their family say ‘but you’re a girl’.”

Ms McMahon said bystanders would question her height.

“It was a male-dominant profession. Some people were taken aback, especially when I got behind the wheel,” she said.

“It has definitely changed, but there is the odd occasion, especially when there is a dual-female crew, when someone might make a remark but it’s uncommon.”

Ms McMahon said the Ambulance Victoria’s staff was now 47 per cent female and it was flexibility and variety that got her interested in the job.

“I had no interest in sitting in an office every day from nine to five,” she said.

”I like the idea of being outside and every day being a bit different. I don’t think anyone gets into this job without wanting to help people, and it’s the best feeling when you do.”