Dannii Veldsman graduated from Santa Maria in 2010. After leaving school, she headed to the University of Western Australia to study engineering. After two years, she decided that engineering was not for her. She then went on to study a science degree in anatomy and human biology with the possibility of studying medicine. However, on completion of that degree, she still didn’t feel like it was the right career choice for her.
“I started volunteering with Saint John Ambulance’s event division and racked up enough hours to do an ambulance ride along. I was lucky to be paired up with some lovely paramedics, and from that moment, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
The process to apply has since changed, but Dannii had the difficult task of studying full-time at Curtin University whilst also working full-time as an ambulance officer. She had finally found her direction and hasn’t looked back since. We asked Dannii to share her story with us.
What does a typical day as a paramedic look like?
Usually an early morning coffee run, checking out the medications for the day and ensuring the ambulance is operational is how we start our day. You are stationed at a depot around the metro area, moving every eight weeks, and working with someone new. You can relax in the recliner until the call comes through for a job in the area. In the current climate we are usually out for majority of our 11-hour day shifts and 13-hour night shift, but sometimes you might be lucky to get back for a quick nap. We alternate if we drive or attend/treat patients each shift, doing two day shifts, two night shifts and then having four days off. Finishing ‘on time’ is a rarity, but our friends in the call centre work hard to get us home to our families as soon as they can.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Genuinely making people’s day. Jobs can be big and small, but to that patient or their families, it can be the worst day of their lives. Interacting with all different kinds of people and making a difference in their day is rewarding. I also received a commendation from a leading WA orthopaedic surgeon for my treatment of a patient who had a motorbike accident, which is really heart-warming. Working with other emergency services like the police and firies is also great. We have mutual respect for each other, and you develop relationships with them. Sometimes you really need them, and they have always got our backs.
Your job would be very stressful. How do you relax? What do you do in your spare time?
We have a book club on my shift, so immersing myself in my book helps me unwind – we meet up once a month for dinner to discuss and enjoy a nice meal. Also, I can’t go past a good pamper day! My friends and I also try and go camping when we can. We get eight weeks leave a year, which we can either take all at once or split into two four-week blocks. This helps you get away (when there are no COVID restrictions). So, I’ve managed to see a bit more of Western Australia over the past few years.
Dannii has been married for just over two years and is just about to welcome her first child in October, a little boy! “My husband is honestly the most supportive person, and we are very excited for the next chapter in our lives.”
Do you have any future plans?
I look forward to coming back to work after maternity leave next year and mentoring new ambulance officers entering the workforce. The mentoring process was extremely vital in my learning and progression, so I hope to help others.
Thanks for sharing your journey with us and congratulations on the upcoming birth of your little boy.