Ellice’s Exit

This is Ellice, who has been a paramedic for nearly 10 years.

Ellice has just resigned from her Ambulance Service and wanted to  share some thoughts.

I don’t think it really matters which one, they all need to learn something about how to treat people.

“I Decided to resign as a paramedic after almost 10 years with the Ambulance service recently on the 6th of Dec 2015.
I have waited till now to post this video in hoping that maybe in that time I might have received a Thank you or appreciation letter for my 10 years with the ambulance but no such thing has come, not even some of my fellow friends/collages know I have even left. So to you guys I want to thank you for all the wonderful memories, fun, special and hard times we shared whilst working together, I will treasure those special times forever as you are all the backbone of the service and without you all, the Ambulance service would not be what it is today. In sharing this I also hope it brings some awareness to this issue and the Ambulance service recognises their employees as amazing, caring, life givers and life savers not a mere number filing in a shift. New chapters ahead for me bring on a new 2016 x x”

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6 Responses to Ellice’s Exit

  1. Thanks says:

    Hey Ellice, I do see positive change occurring. Our culture is slowly improving and I believe it’s filtering down from the top. You’ve made some pertinent points; we need a more proactive approach to dealing with our own mental health and the burden of responsibility rests with our service so that those who cannot help themselves are identified and assisted. We need a reliable system in place which doesn’t allow people to ‘fall through the cracks’. Just as AV is responsible for providing a safe workplace which limits risk to our physical safety, they have a duty of care to our mental and emotional well being. I agree with you that the way in which this aspect of ‘workplace safety’ has been addressed in the past has been haphazard and half hearted at best. I can tell you that over my 20 years with the service there have been slow but tangible improvements made in this area and I am hopeful that as mental health gains a higher profile and better understanding in the community we will see more modern, more robust management strategies put in place to protect and nurture the mental health of paramedics.

    This, in my view, is a separate issue to gaining internal recognition for our work. I do feel reasonably well supported in this area. I feel that I receive enough pats on the back from my colleagues, my immediate manager and certainly from my patients and the wider community. ‘Thanks’ is always nice to hear, but I don’t need an abundance of accolades for what I do. A letter (and a gold watch!) upon retirement from the service would be a bonus but it’s not a necessity for me, perhaps because I already feel appreciated for my hard work. In my area, when someone leaves AV after a decent length of service there is usually a farewell party held for them. I am aware of a paramedic who retired after lengthy service and for whom AV actually stumped up some cash to throw a celebration. I’m told Tony attended to shake his hand and say thanks 🙂 There are also service medals which are awarded at regular intervals after 10 years and each recipient is invited to attend a fancy bash with their families in recognition of their service. The thanks is there – I’m sorry you didn’t hear it and you leave the job feeling unappreciated and unvalued.

    I watched and listened to your entire video. I see someone who is broken and who desperately wants someone to recognise the toll this job has taken, to tell you that it was worth it. I see someone who wants recognition not for the excellent job they have done, but for the huge price they have paid in doing it. I see someone who sits in the same position I did a few years ago – battling PTSD, miserable, angry and wanting someone to recognise the mess that was in my head. To a certain extent, I wanted my employer to accept their responsibility for the position I was in. Instead, I felt that my head was screwed so I was useless to the service and ‘they’ would happily have washed their hands of me without a backwards glance; perhaps partly true, probably also a manifestation of the poor mental state I was in. I very, very nearly quit. In my black hole, I felt unappreciated, uncared for, taken for granted and discarded. With great clarity, I saw how our colleagues have fallen through those cracks. I encourage you to seek assistance from a professional who actually understands what we do – for there is nothing more frustrating than having to repeatedly explain that ours is a very unique line of work where the ‘normal’ does not always apply! I still regularly visit one of the VACCU psychologists and I see now it has been an immense help, although it didn’t really feel like it when I was at my darkest, most hopeless point. Keep looking until you find the person who is the right fit for you. Put one foot in front of the other, surround yourself with the people who love you, give yourself time to heal and to sort out the mess. Those memories will always be in your head but they won’t always be at the ‘forefront’ of your mind. The sun does shine again.

    Thank you for your service.

    • Gary Thompson says:

      Hi Ellice, I can’t say in all fairness that Ambulance Victoria was anything like that when I served as an ambulance officer grade 111 but there were serious issues that made the job a lot harder for us in those times than the time that you are talking about.

      My ambulance career started in February 1966, 50 years ago next month. I had wanted to be an ambo for many years and when the opportunity presented itself I was happy to serve in any way that I could. I started at Latrobe Street and have to admit the staff were very tolerant with us ‘newbies” and I never heard a bad word spoken about the managerial staff in the time I serviced with the Victorian Civil Ambulance Service. In 1970 I left VCAS and obtained a relieving position at the South Western Victoria District Ambulance Service in Warrnambool. In those early years in the country we were expected to attend the most horrific accidents where cars collide at high speed, on our own. When we would arriver at the scene in most cases there maybe some bystanders doing the best they could. Our ambulance had four beds and a driver. If we were very lucky a police officer would arrive at the accident but many times they would get there a while after we would. Today you have back up ambulances to help you out and as many as 6 paramedics to assist you, you have police, fries and the SES. We had none of that, at best we may get a back up ambulance with another 4 beds and a driver. Another problem at the time was that the stretcher had four wheels about 3 inches in diameter, we had to use bystanders to help us carry the stretchers to the ambulance and then we had to look around to find someone to drive the ambulance to the hospital if the police officer was unavailable. Yes, the job was hard in those days, there were no conciliating facilities available you and you alone had to work through it yourself.

      I loved the ambulance work but after 7 years it wore me down and I took a break for more years than I intended too. I later returned and acquired a position with the private sector and stayed there for as long as I could. On November 2009 I had an accident myself on my way to work at a service in Mt Waverley. The injuries were so severe that the doctors would not allow me to work in the field of Ambulance again. I was forced into retirement at 68.

      I am now a volunteer mentor driver with the TAC and VicRoads L2P Program helping disadvantaged teens to get their 120 hours needed to sit for their licence. I love doing this as I have had a lot of driver training and am now able to give something back.

      Ellice you will get through this and you will still be able to help people who need you and the services you are able to provide. All ambos know that we don’t (or in my case, didn’t) do the job for the accolades or the money. We do this because we care about people and we want to help them in their hour of need. I am sure you will go on and be a big success in the job you chose in the future.

      My best wishes to you
      Gary Thompson

  2. Jose says:

    I don’t see a person who is broken or someone who can’t help themselves. I see a person who is hurt, who is sensitive to similar experiences felt by her colleagues and as someone providing an emotional response that wouldn’t be be so readily apparent amongst her colleagues.

    There is always an element of stoicism amongst those in emergency services, it is a characteristic that is shared by other professions, that on a regular basis deal with traumatic situations as part of their daily work. So in many respects this tearful response by Ellice, expresses a sentiment probably shared by a great number of paramedics, who are less willing to express themselves on social media and less prepared to expose a vulnerable part of their personality. Ellice’s voice is a little-seen side of those, that on a daily basis treat other’s trauma as part of their “normal” day.

    Having said that, Ambulance Victoria is an awesome organisation, that deserves full community support. Its presence and valuable service makes our lives and our communities better, safer and happier. I would hope that there are lessons from this experience that help it to support its own members and former members in a better manner.

    What all people require, regardless of profession, is that human element that inspires confidence, commitment and belonging. Some might call it esprit de corps, mateship, team-spirit. Whatever it is, it needs skilled leadership in order to work effectively. It requires someone on a local, personal level, to put a situation in perspective and to recognise how their team members relate to it, to their organisation, to the public and to each other as individuals. Such skills are lacking in so many areas nowadays, not just in emergency services.

    I’m sorry for your loss Ellice. It must be difficult to leave something that has been such a valuable and ingrained part of your life. I hope that the future brings you satisfaction and I hope that the paramedics of the future benefit from your experience, despite the obvious sadness you feel at this time.

  3. Jan mccully says:

    Wow Ellice, your raw emotions dredged up my own feelings almost 2 yrs ago when I had to make the decision to resign after 11 yrs of being involved in ambulance. My physical health reasons progressed to mental health issues in the decision making & resigning… to have to give up something youve worked so hard for and sacrificed so much, that so few realise, for the job!
    I was lucky that immediate workmates gave me a send off… I did get recognition of my 10 years service but was not able to make myself attend a “fancy” presentation in front of strangers. So I guess that medal is sitting in someones desk draw somewhere.
    I can now go a longer without crying over my loss of what might have been… thanks to strong antidepressants & counselling.
    I understand what you have given up… what you have sacrificed… and what will never be again.
    Thank you for your hard work, your devotion & thank you for your service!

  4. Andrew says:

    So true from the heart. Iv been with vic SES for 30 years. I got injured at a incident. 2 an a half years later iv only been contacted around 4 times to c how I’m going. Life keeps going for them as I start to learn how to move on. We’re all just numbers to the services.
    Thank u Ellice for the years of service u gave. I’m proud that u were willing to help other where others stand by an just watch. Your a lady in my eyes who has help people threw good an bad times. Thank u.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ellice, as an ex military medic I’ve seen many versions of separation from service, and only the deceased get a true farewell of honors. Sometimes a retiree does but it’s still only those where the member works that provide it. For the rest who have given so much….. Maybe a bit of paper and that’s it. In time one comes to accept that it’s not the organisation for whom we served… It was for a greater good, and the organisation was merely the beureaucratc vessel providing the means to that end. Time and again it’s been the public who have thanked us, in word and deed. Take comfort in the memory of why you became a paramedic, perhaps like most, you respected what they did and held the profession in high regard. That has not changed and now you are of these courageous veterans. You will reconcile with your service time and come to know the actualisation of being a true hero. Meanwhile the public thanks you and I thank you for your service. Glad you checked in, and if you’re ever in my cafe I’ll be proud to buy you a cuppa and hear how you’re going. I believe I speak for many. Best wishes.

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