Flexible, Focused Training: Keeps Volunteer Ambulance Officers

Christine Fahey, Judith Walker, Grant Lennox


This paper reports the training findings of the Stand Up and Be Counted Project, a study of Australian and New Zealand Volunteer Ambulance Officers (VAO), the first-line response to medical emergencies in rural and remote areas. VAO are a dwindling resource in regional and rural areas with a great need for such services due their isolation from other health services. The study, financed by Emergency Management Australia, aimed to devise strategies to improve the situation. The project surveyed 2,500 VAO from Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia and New Zealand's North and South islands. This research has a wider application for other emergency services as they undergo similar changes and pressures related to training volunteers under the new Australian Quality Training Framework. The new framework has increased the training and accreditation requirements for many volunteers, and anecdotal evidence before the research suggested that too much training was a disincentive for VAO, making it difficult for ambulance services to recruit or retain volunteers. Our research confirmed that training is important for VAO. The polarization in some responses were considered to have three causes: different training systems per jurisdiction; different levels of isolation and other regionalisation factors meant some units were better serviced than others; and individuals had different expectations and capacities. However the study found that as long as VAO are protected from excessive and onerous bureaucratic processes, and provided with quality training, a competency-based training with national standards is not a disincentive. If done well, training will be a strategic recruitment and retention tool by increasing the confidence and sense of achievement VAO feel.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.33151/ajp.1.1.74


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The Official Journal of Paramedics Australasia © 2019                           ISSN: 2202-7270


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