The paramedic
The paramedic "hug team”: Ginny Lovelady and Mel Connolly here help in anyway they can. Liana Walker

Females paramedics proving they're more than just drivers

"ARE you qualified to drive?"   "Why did you send a female to this job?" 

They are just two of the many discriminatory questions Stanthorpe paramedics Ginny Lovelady and Mel Connolly have had to endure over their long careers in the ambulance service.  

But speaking to The Border Post following International Women's Day last Thursday, they said they now felt less resistance and more acceptance working in what was once a male-dominated career.  

Mel said being able to take control of the scene was one of the most important skills regardless of gender. 

 "Sometimes it takes us to be assertive or firm which a lot of those kind of traits are looked at positively when you're male, but unfortunately are not looked at very positively when you're female," Mel said.   

"But I think that's just old-school thinking as well because this job teaches us to be very strong."   Mel said she worked in some rural stations where she was the first female paramedic.  

"The community actually took it better than my colleagues did. But back then we were still proving ourselves. I think you'll still find in outback really remote places that's where it's still changing slowly."  

Similarly Ginny found certain groups to be less tolerant. 

"I can always remember going in to see a man who was stuck in a bath and he said, 'Oh my goodness you sent a woman with you' and I said 'yes, I'm also a paramedic'.'  

However, the ladies agree the best team is a female and a male together.  

"There's no mistake that the genders communicate in different levels," Ginny said.   

"When you get a job it could be anything from a stubbed toe to the worst thing in the world.  

"I can think of a case where my male colleague has stepped aside and said 'do you mind?' and that was so easy because there was a female there. Not that he wasn't capable of the job but it was nice to go in and help.   

"Sometimes I've even got to step back and say 'do you want to speak to this young man?' Sometimes it is a gender issue for the patient. 

"But ultimately male-female crews are the best because it offers the best of both worlds."  

Ginny said paramedics worked in a privileged position.

"We're either with people through the best time of their life, giving birth to a baby, or the worst time. And that's uniquely special to be able to deal with both of those things."

 "Somebody once said to me 'when do you think you use your paramedic skills?' and the answer is always because you use every available skill on every patient you've got. Because for one that might be that hand on the shoulder to say 'there, there' or a full blown using all our technical skills."

"My initial thought with joining the ambulance service was to be able to help people cope with the worst day of their life," Mel added.