A PASSION about caring for others drives Grampians paramedic Kimberly Hayes.
Ms Hayes said her average shift begins early, usually taking over from the night team.
She and her team load up a new vehicle and get to work inspecting equipment and medication for the day ahead.
The varied nature of the jobs paramedics have to visit requires strict preparation and an open mind - something Ms Hayes said was one of the job's many challenges.
"It is very unpredictable, you don't know what you will be going to so you have to be flexible with your thought processes and what you are going to go to," she said.
"Sometimes you can go to a heart attack or sometimes you go to a snake bite.
"Sometimes we got to jobs in the Grampians where someone has broken or rolled their ankle. It is just about being adaptable to what you are being dispatched to."
An average day might also see them travel far afield - from Horsham, Stawell, Ararat, Ballarat, and even Melbourne.
"Sometimes we do transfers from hospital to hospital, and get dispatched to jobs locally and the surrounding area," she said.
"It is a bit different when you are rural to when you are in Melbourne. We certainly don't have the same hospital infrastructure out this way. That can be a challenge at times."
Ms Hayes has spent five years at the Stawell Ambulance branch, and 12 years prior at branches in Melbourne.
During her time, she said the scope of what paramedics can treat has expanded, with new technology and medication allowing them to help a wider array of people meet favourable outcomes.
I think you need to be flexible. I think you need to be able to think on your feet. You obviously need to work hard and want to help people.
"Our scope of practice is so much bigger than what it was when we first started," she said.
"We are in a position now where we can give drugs to people who are having a heart attack, which is imperative if they are going to have a good outcome after that."
Ms Hayes, who studied paramedicine at Monash University, said the training had changed with time as well.
"It was almost like an apprenticeship scheme. You did a bit of university work and then you went out on the road and did some ambulance work to build skills, and then you went back and forth to get qualified," she said.
"It was very different to what it is now - it is just a three year straight uni degree now."
She said her interest in paramedicine started with a desire to help other people - a desire she said all paramedics share.
"Helping people would be the best part of the job," she said.
"I think you need to be flexible. I think you need to be able to think on your feet. You obviously need to work hard and want to help people.
"It is a pretty unique career, because you are entering people's lives in a moment when they are in need, so you have to be empathetic and work well as part of a team."
The varied nature of the work also brings a wide array of rewarding experiences.
Ms Hayes recalled a time when she was working at an ambulance depot in Preston, Melbourne, and was suddenly forced to deliver a baby in the depot's garage.
It is very unpredictable, you don't know what you will be going to so you have to be flexible with your thought processes and what you are going to go to
"One of the most rewarding jobs I did was, when I worked in Melbourne I was closing the front roller door of the branch, and this car just drove in really, really quickly through the roller door before it closed.
"I looked into the passenger seat and there was a woman in there who looked quite pale and sweaty," she said.
"I opened up the door and she was pregnant and having a baby. We delivered the baby at the branch, and they were both lively.
"They were such beautiful people and she was just really nice and healthy. We transported them to hospital and they came back and showed their appreciation each year until I left.
"On the birthday of their daughter, every year, they popped into the branch to give us updates.
"It was beautiful, because they were obviously quite stressed and the baby was coming. It was just really nice we were able to help them. They were just a really nice couple."
Among the rewarding moments the job offers were many stressful and physically intense moments.
Ms Hayes said all paramedics have a different way of dealing with the demands of the job - with hers being hiking in the Grampians.
As COVID-19 restrictions ease and people start to move around the state again, Ms Hayes said she expects her workload to increase.
She reminded the community to only use 000 in the case of an emergency - to make sure the ambulance's time and resources are going to those who need it most.
"Every call for assistance that isn't an emergency puts significant strain on our crews to reach those who need us the most," she said.
"Not all calls through to 000 require an emergency ambulance, that's why patients may be given care advice or advised to seek alternative transport arrangements by our Secondary Triage team."
Ms Hayes said for non-life threatening situations, GPs and pharmacists can provide non-urgent care.
She said the Nurse-on-call service can also offer medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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