A mis­sion

Com­pas­sion and com­po­sure un­der pres­sure make for an ideal emer­gency ser­vices of­fi­cer, write Ben Pike and Cara Jenkin

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RE­CRUIT­ING cam­paigns for emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel across the coun­try have raised the pro­file of po­lice, fire fight­ers and am­bu­lance work­ers, at­tract­ing po­ten­tial re­cruits.

Tar­geted po­lice cam­paigns in South Aus­tralia, Queens­land, the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, Vic­to­ria and New South Wales aim to bring in 7300 new po­lice of­fi­cers by 2016.

Ex­pected strong em­ploy­ment growth for both am­bu­lance (5.4 per cent) and fire and emer­gency per­son­nel (3.9 per cent) over the next four years also is mak­ing be­ing a pub­lic de­fender a more at­trac­tive ca­reer op­tion.

Emer­gency ser­vice em­ploy­ees in SA work on av­er­age 38 hours a week com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age of 41 hours.

Aus­tralasian Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vice Au­thor­i­ties Coun­cil hu­man re­sources man­ager Judy Gould­bourn says most peo­ple are at­tracted to emer­gency ser­vices be­cause it is a chance to make a con­tri­bu­tion.

‘‘ Apart from be­ing a phys­i­cally ac­tive job that is far from deskbound, there is also the fact that it is com­mu­nity ori­en­tated and highly re­garded by wider so­ci­ety,’’ Gould­bourn says.

‘‘ Usu­ally re­cruit­ment agen­cies like to take peo­ple who have a lit­tle bit of life ex­pe­ri­ence as they are gen­er­ally bet­ter pre­pared for what they may face.’’

Aus­tralia New Zealand Polic­ing Ad­vi­sory Agency chief ex­ec­u­tive Jon White says as well as there be­ing va­ri­ety in polic­ing oc­cu­pa­tions, ev­ery day is a new day on the job.

‘‘ The choice is there to work with youth, di­verse com­mu­ni­ties, join the air wing, foren­sics and other ser­vices,’’ he says. ‘‘ As a po­lice of­fi­cer you ac­cu­mu­late these series of ex­pe­ri­ences that con­tin­u­ally re­fresh over your ca­reer.’’

The State Gov­ern­ment has a tar­get to re­cruit an ex­tra 313 po­lice by 2016, on top of nat­u­ral at­tri­tion.

SAPOL Hu­man Re­source Ser­vice Act­ing As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Su­per­in­ten­dent Ferdi Pit says like most ma­jor em­ploy­ers, SAPOL al­ways needs new staff to re­place those who re­tire or move on.

It gen­er­ally has monthly in­takes of new re­cruits who all must un­der­take the ini­tial train­ing to be­come a con­sta­ble, which takes about two years, re­gard­less of what job they seek in the po­lice ser­vice.

Once they’ve reached the rank of con­sta­ble, of­fi­cers can ap­ply to study cour­ses to give AV­ER­AGE AM­BU­LANCE AV­ER­AGE FIRE AV­ER­AGE PO­LICE Contact each ser­vice. www.achieve­more.com. au; www.samfs.sa.gov.au; www.saam­bu­lance.com.au them the skills to move into po­si­tions, in­clud­ing lead­er­ship, foren­sic and pros­e­cu­tion.

‘‘ We look to re­cruit, at a min­i­mum, 175 peo­ple per year,’’ Pit says.

Un­like many other ca­reers, train­ing for roles is pro­vided through the po­lice ser­vice, with a Year 12 qual­i­fi­ca­tion or equiv­a­lent the only ed­u­ca­tional pre-req­ui­site to ap­ply for a po­si­tion. But ap­pli­cants do have to meet phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal cri­te­ria.

‘‘ Polic­ing is not an oc­cu­pa­tion for ev­ery­one,’’ Pit says.

‘‘ The big at­trac­tion for join­ing po­lice . . . is that the op­por­tu­ni­ties are end­less. Pa­trol work is a very ex­cit­ing and re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and from there you can move into any­thing from foren­sic sciences, fin­ger­prints, bal­lis­tics, crime scene in­ves­ti­ga­tion.’’

On-the-job ben­e­fits in­clude be­ing able to work with sta­teof-the-art equip­ment and be­ing ros­tered shifts that can help with work/life bal­ance.

Like many other health ser­vices, SA Am­bu­lance Ser­vice has ex­pe­ri­enced rapid growth in staff num­bers in the past 10 years, with the strong­est growth of the state’s emer­gency ser­vices of 56 per cent.

It re­cruits ex­tra staff de­pend­ing on gov­ern­ment fund­ing and its staffing struc­tures now are un­der re­view.

Paramedics re­quire a Bach­e­lor of Health Sciences (Paramedic) to be em­ployed by SA Am­bu­lance Ser­vice in its an­nual in­take, then com­plete an in­tern­ship and reg­u­lar train­ing days to re­main ac­cred­ited.

Other work­ers can com­plete cer­tifi­cate qual­i­fi­ca­tions to be em­ployed as pa­tient trans­port of­fi­cers or emer­gency med­i­cal dis­patch sup­port of­fi­cers.

The Metropoli­tan Fire Ser­vice usu­ally is in­un­dated with ap­pli­ca­tions when it re­cruits for fire fight­ers about ev­ery two years.

Learn­ing and De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment Metropoli­tan Com­man­der Peter But­ton says the MFS can re­ceive more than 1100 ap­pli­ca­tions that is re­duced to a short­list of about 100 can­di­dates. ‘‘( Be­ing a fire fighter) is a chance to give back to the com­mu­nity. The work con­di­tions are great . . . the ca­ma­raderie on shifts is great,’’ But­ton says.

‘‘ We find many ap­pli­cants al­ready know some­one within the ser­vice and hear that the em­ploy­ment con­di­tions are great.’’

Ros­tered shift work is an at­trac­tion.

‘‘ But it’s one of the most re­spected pro­fes­sions in Aus­tralia,’’ But­ton says. ‘‘ Fire fight­ers get to do a worth­while job, pro­tect­ing the state.’’

Fire fight­ers start with a six month pro­ba­tion pe­riod which in­cludes a 14 week re­cruit course. For the first six years of their ca­reer, they progress through the ranks and un­der­take com­pul­sory study to be­come a se­nior fire fighter.

Fur­ther study to achieve a pro­mo­tion, such as to full-time sta­tion of­fi­cer, is vol­un­tary.

SAPOL Eastern Ade­laide Lo­cal Ser­vice Area po­lice of­fi­cers Jane Tan, Rhett Davis and Ty Melville (pic­tured on cover) en­joy the work.

Tan, 35, a crime pre­ven­tion of­fi­cer, was an in­ter­preter be­fore seek­ing more va­ri­ety in her work. ‘‘ It’s great be­cause we do a va­ri­ety of jobs, can go into dif­fer­ent sec­tions and we meet lots of peo­ple,’’ she says. Con­sta­ble Davis, 25, was a store­man be­fore seek­ing good job se­cu­rity and a ca­reer path in the po­lice.

For­mer lab sci­en­tist Melville, 26, a pro­ba­tion­ary con­sta­ble, also sought a change.

‘‘ I was look­ing for ca­reer sat­is­fac­tion, op­por­tu­nity and train­ing you can get dur­ing your ca­reer that you can hold on to for life,’’ he says.

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