By Christine Fahey, Professor Judi Walker and Associate Professor Adrian Sleigh – University Department of Rural Health, University of Tasmania
This paper reports the training findings of a larger study of Tasmania’s Volunteer Ambulance Officers, the first-line response to medical emergencies in rural and remote areas. They are a dwindling resource in an isolated state with a great need for such services due to its large rural population and numerous tourists. The project surveyed all Tasmanian Volunteer Ambulance Officers and then conducted 10 focus groups. We found that training is important to VAO. It is not a disincentive. If done well, training will be a strategic recruitment and retention tool and will help to stabilise Tasmania’s emergency rural health workforce. This research has a wider application for emergency services as they undergo similar changes and pressures related to training volunteers.