By Alesha Capone
Victoria University graduate Rochelle Smith says she was inspired to become a paramedic after learning about her mother’s battle with chronic diseases.
Ms Smith, 22, said that while growing up, she heard stories about how her mother, Belinda, had suffered from severe asthma, emphysema, arthritis and osteoporosis.
“My mum has never needed an ambulance since she had me, however the effort and care my mum received during her childhood years, from paramedics and other hospital staff, is incredible. Without them, my mum wouldn’t be here and neither would I,” Ms Smith said.
“Today, she still lives with disease and struggles daily, however now that I’m a paramedic I feel a little more at ease, where previously it was a scary time.”
Ms Smith and her mother both live in Manor Lakes. Ms Smith is based at Ambulance Victoria’s Bacchus Marsh station.
“I am one of the 120 new graduates recruited during the coronavirus pandemic to help bolster health services across the state,” Ms Smith said.
“I graduated from Victoria University last year … and I am currently undertaking Ambulance Victoria’s induction program so that I am ready to hit the road at the start of June.
“I think that what I’ll enjoy most about the job is paying it forward, helping people in what may be their darkest day.
“The job is special, we are invited into people’s homes, invading their safe and personal space, the trust the community gives us when they are vulnerable.
“I just hope that I can give people a little positivity, in these moments, that they will never forget.”
Ms Smith said that Ambulance Victoria had provided additional training for paramedics to help them deal with the coronavirus, and high-grade personal protective equipment including Tyvek suits, masks, gloves and eyewear.
“It has changed the way we respond to patients with certain procedures being completed differently, to protect the patient and ourselves while delivering the best patient care,” Ms Smith said.
“My take home message during this coronavirus pandemic is to not be afraid of calling triple-0 for emergencies. If you’re sick, we are here for you and want to support you in every way we can.”
Ms Smith said being a paramedic was a rewarding employment opportunity, and urged other young people to consider it as a career.
“Being young in university, people may believe you don’t have any life experience or you aren’t ready for the huge responsibilities associated with being a paramedic, however that is untrue. We can all somehow fit into this wonderful job, young or old, and contribute to the community, which is what I love,” she said.