Aussie women saving lives
Putting your life on the line for another takes serious guts but there’s an increasing number of women rising to the challenge.
RACQ Living podcast episode 9 is all about rescue stories from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), Queensland Police Service (QPS), RACQ Roadside patrol and LifeFlight. Putting your life on the line for some else takes serious guts and in male-dominated services like QAS and QFES there’s an increasing number of women also rising to that challenge.
QAS paramedic Amy de Sylva and QFES senior firefighter Rachel Hume are two women who’ve chosen to dedicate their career to keeping Queenslanders safe.
Brisbane-born Amy de Sylva works 12-hour shifts in Townsville, many with a 15kg pack strapped to her back. While the role can be tough, she said she’d never trade it in for an office job.
“I’ve always wanted to do a job that was quite hands-on – I’ve never wanted a desk job,” she said.
“I always thought that (being a paramedic) was a really interesting job that I could get into.
“You're helping a lot of people and it's always a different job every single day of the week.”
With help from her family, friends and the QAS, Amy went straight into the field as a paramedic after study and hasn’t once regretted it.
“I've had the full support of my family the entire time and all my friends have supported me through the whole thing,” she said.
“The QAS is very supportive of people getting in and then kind of making a name for themselves in the service as well.”
As for Amy’s most memorable rescue, she says there isn’t just one story that sums up why she became a paramedic. Instead, it’s the everyday moments when people genuinely appreciate what she does.
“We go to some old little nana who think they're wasting your time because they've fallen over, and they've hurt themselves,” she said.
“I've got all the time in the world to sit with them, to go and help them up and give them some pain relief and secure their arm or whatever limb that they've hurt.
“And they're really genuinely thankful that we're there to help them in those kinds of times.”
Just like Amy, firefighter Rachel Hume has no intention of giving up her day job with QFES, but her path towards her childhood dream job wasn’t quite as straightforward.
“When I was a little kid I wanted to be a firefighter but then, as I grew older, that idea didn't really seem like a reality,” she said.
“As I got later into life and I'd tried a few different careers and stuff, I wanted something that was challenging and something physical.
“So, I decided to have a crack and try and get in.”
From the get-go, Rachel knew it was exactly where she was meant to be and with friends already in the service she felt supported right away. Networking and support systems between women in the industry are also encouraged.
“We've got a fairly strong group of girls now where we network with each other outside of the job and inside the job,” Rachel said.
A day in the life of a firefighter can be both rewarding and stressful. Rachel’s work environment often involves crashes, accidents and fires. Coping with the stress of these situations can be difficult for even the toughest person.
“If we get a difficult job, the crew sticks together and everyone's really supportive,” Rachel said.
“But generally, if it's something that's a little bit stressful or upsetting, as a crew everyone can acknowledge it and we talk about it as a crew and have a debrief on the situation.”
As for their five-year plans, Amy has been invited to a QAS women’s leadership conference and Rachel can’t see herself leaving QFES anytime soon.
They are both proud to be making a difference in Queensland lives and paving the way for other likeminded women. Their advice to these girls is very true to the Aussie spirit – just give it a go.