In honour of Women’s Day, we’re featuring three fierce females who are killing it in their careers. This is a day in the life of female paramedic Kirsty Worrall.
A Day in The Life of Female Paramedic Kirsty Worrall
Packing the day before
What is your packing ritual and how do you get ready for the next day? What goes into your kit bag?
At night I lay out my jumpsuit (uniform), undershirts and check that my shoes are clean. In my kit bag I’ll pack my lunch, water, sunglasses, additional pens, rain jacket, warm jersey, safety helmet, safety glasses, stethoscope, deodorant and a spare undershirt.
Off to work
Wake up time
What do you have to do to prepare for your day?
Get dressed, put my hair out of the way (either pony or plait) and apply some light makeup.
What do you eat?
Definitely coffee! Fruit and yoghurt and if I have time, bacon and eggs.
The start of the day
What do you have to do when you get to work in order to prepare for your shift? How long is your shift?
My shift is from 9am to 6pm (nine-hours). On arrival, I immediately have coffee. Then I check that the response vehicle is in proper running order (vehicle check), and ensure the jump bag is fully stocked (bandages, IVs, medications, etc) and all monitoring equipment is fully charged and working.
On the job
What do you do when there is an emergency? Do you drive the ambulance yourself?
We acknowledge the call from our dispatcher and ensure we have the correct address. We then proceed safely to the call. I have a partner and we take turns to do the driving, although I prefer being the passenger (my partner is a better driver – but don’t tell him that!).
Anything interesting you can tell us about what it’s like being on the job/what crazy stuff has happened on the job?
The best has got to be the ‘selfie’ addicts. There is always that one person trying to get a quick pic of themselves on the scene without us noticing.
What is a normal day?
On a good day, we wait for calls and joke around with our colleagues. On a bad day, we can run up to 12 calls for the day which means no coffee, no lunch break and very little time for a toilet stop.
How does your day end?
If we’ve had some serious calls, we’ll do a debrief before going home.
Last things to do?
Ensure the response vehicle is clean for the next crew, put the monitoring equipment on charge and ensure all the paperwork is completed and uploaded.
What do you do when you get home?
I immediately shower, put on track pants and fluffy slippers. Then I get lots of cuddles from my little boy, cook dinner and have a glass of wine.
What got you into the paramedic field?
Studying beauty therapy! I really enjoyed the anatomy side of it so once I completed my course, I decided to do a Basic Life Support Medic course and eventually I moved on to the Intermediate Life Support qualification.
What was your first day on the job like?
Very long! We ran from 6.30am to 7am the next morning. I was exhausted.
When did you realise you wanted to be a paramedic?
About halfway through my beauty qualification (age 19) I arrived on a vehicle accident scene and felt totally useless. I knew then that I wanted to be able to help the next time something like this happened.
Was there anybody in particular that was instrumental in helping you become a paramedic?
Probably all the amazing volunteers from Hout Bay Volunteer EMS and Community Medics, both of which are Cape Town-based Volunteer NPOs. As soon as I mentioned I wanted to be a medic, they gave me all the details I needed of where to study, and once I had my BAA qualification they really took me under their wing and helped guide me to where I am today.
What are some of your fondest memories on the job?
It’s so great to assist bringing a new life into this world and seeing a mom’s joy instead of always being around people in their lowest moments. EMS is a relatively small community, and some of my best moments have been the new friendships I’ve made with other medics.
Do you experience sad moments?
Having to tell a friend or family member that there is nothing more we can do, that their loved one has passed on is always the hardest part of the job for me. It always makes me cry.
What other hobbies and activities do you do outside of saving lives?
EMS is my passion and hobby now. I have had to move into teaching medical courses full-time to support my little boy financially, but I still work (volunteer) on the Community Medics response car twice a week.
What would you say to a young woman who is contemplating a career as a paramedic?
Make sure it’s your passion. What we see on the road can be difficult and heart-wrenching at times. You need to have a strong soul but a gentle heart. You need to be able to empathise with others, but also stand your ground when needed. EMS is definitely not a job you do for the money.
Have you ever worked on an all-female crew?
Yes, I have and it was awesome.
Would you say gender bias is starting to lessen in the 21st century?
Definitely. We are very much ‘one of the boys’ on the road.
What has being a paramedic taught you that you can use in everyday life outside of the ambulance?
That you cannot control every situation and to always be kind to others.
In your opinion, why do women make great paramedics?
Being a paramedic is a passion and a calling for both men and women. I can’t say specifically why a woman would make a great paramedic… Yes, we are maternal and loving, yet also strong and hardworking – but so are a lot of men out there. All I can say is that maybe we have the ability to put on makeup and look like angels while doing our job.
Your message to encourage more females who want to go into your industry?
Don’t be afraid. EMS is more than just a job – we’re a family. We look out for one another in every situation.
Kirsty Worrall is one of many women who wake up every morning with a keen sense of helping other people. A passion for humanity is probably why she’s been able to fully function outside of what she thought she knew about herself.
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