WHEN Faye Stockman joined the NSW Ambulance Service 27 years ago, it was seen as an unusual career choice for a woman.
She served the first part of that career at Parramatta, and when she came to Bomaderry in 2000, she was the first ever full-time female paramedic at the station.
Now a district inspector for the Shoalhaven and a highly trained rescue paramedic, District Operations Manager (DOM) Faye Stockman has been recognised by the Ambulance Service to mark International Women’s Day.
One of the state’s longest serving paramedics, she originally began training as a nurse before joining the service in 1986.
She remembers that one of the only prerequisites for early female recruits was that they be strong enough to close the bonnet of an F100 Ford.
In 1989 she put up her hand for rescue training, which involved learning skills in vertical and confined space rescue, rope work and using the jaws-of-life in road accidents.
She remembers working as a paramedic on the road when she was pregnant, dressed in a borrowed jumpsuit to accommodate her baby bump.
The trailblazing paramedic said the number of women in the service had gradually increased over the years – they now make up 33.8 per cent of the paramedic workforce.
“It is an incredibly rewarding job. You just never know what you’re going to get called out to next,” she said.
“You meet very interesting people, admittedly often in very difficult circumstances.
“It can you get you down. I’m human like everyone else, and at the end of the day it’s just a uniform. But it’s like any job, there are two sides to every coin.”
DOM Stockman said women could bring something special to the role.
“Women can sometimes approach things on a different level, which can be very helpful, as it’s all teamwork here.”
DOM Stockman has always met the physical challenges of the job, ever since being thrown in the deep end as a 21-year-old recruit at the busy station of Parramatta.
“For me, as a female, it was about stepping up to the plate,” she said.
“I have experienced violence on the road; I’ve been punched a few times throughout my career.
“But it got me angry more than anything. My thought is, ‘We’re paramedics, we’re here to help people, not to be threatened, not to be assaulted’.”
Zone manager for the Illawarra and South Western Sector Paul Tonge said he had a great respect for DOM Stockman as both a paramedic and a role model for the women who had followed in her footsteps.
“Female paramedics, and in Faye’s case senior managers, have enhanced the capability and capacity of our workforce,” he said.
And after 27 years, DOM Stockman’s passion for the job is still strong.
“Women have made a difference in the service, we complement our male peers, we work together to serve our community and there is no better feeling than knowing we can work together to help save and make a difference in a stranger’s life.”