NSW’s first female paramedic, Lee Clout, is pleased that NSW Ambulance has become the first emergency service in the state to reach gender parity in its ranks.
“It’s amazing. It reflects our society and communities that it’s 50/50,” Ms Clout said.
“Being a paramedic is not orientated on gender, religion and culture. It is orientated on the skills and knowledge to do the job.”
Ms Clout said it is exceptional that women make up 45 per cent of the management positions at NSW Ambulance, given that they make up over 50 per cent of the workforce.
“It means there’s an opportunity for people to better their skills and have progression in the job,” she said.
“It’s great to see that NSW Ambulance is thriving, modern and working with the community and providing us with a service equal to no other.”
Ms Clout joined Wagga Wagga Ambulance Station as a paramedic officer in May 1979, when she was 20 years old.
Born in Melbourne and raised in Tumut, Ms Clout initially pursued nursing in Wagga. However, after realising that it was not her calling, she applied for the position of paramedic officer.
When Ms Clout first started, she did many jobs as a lone officer.
“Paramedics today have much better knowledge and skills because of the training,” she said. “It’s amazing what some of the paramedics can do.”
“The opportunity to arrive at a hospital is much better now than when I was a paramedic.”
The former paramedic said her memorable moments and the best part were the strong bonds she formed with her colleagues.
“We didn’t have things like counsellors to go and speak to, we helped each other out,” Ms Clout said.
“We talked to each other and referred things to each other, and I think that camaraderie was something that was pretty special.”
Ms Clout’s words of wisdom for young people wanting to pursue a career as a paramedic is first to go and speak to one to gain insights on whether they want to remain in the field or explore a management position.
“Go and talk to people (paramedics). It’s an excellent job. It has its good times and bad and you have your struggles,” she said. “It’s a job where you’re caring and doing something for your community.”
Ms Clout devoted 10 years of her time and skills to NSW Ambulance on two separate occasions.
The first time, she left NSW Ambulance because she could not do part-time work while she was a mother to a newborn baby. She said with her baby, she was unable to manage both her roles and give her 100 per cent.
She returned to NSW Ambulance after a decade and worked in the emergency centre for five years. After the centre closed, she joined the NSW Police Service and worked at their communication centre for 12 years.
Ms Clout currently lives on the South Coast, working as a complex case manager in aged care and preparing for retirement.
The grandmother hopes to travel and spend more time with her grandsons in retirement.