ECU paramedicine students join St John WA team for disaster response

Press Release
  • More than 50 Edith Cowan University paramedicine students could be deployed to support ambulance services in disaster incidents thanks to new training delivered by St John WA,
  • Under the program:
    o all 52 students will receive training in mass casualty and disaster principles,
    o 33 will complete training to become Emergency Medical Assistants – the same qualification many volunteers have,
    o 19 are already St John WA EMAs with St John
  • Students will be deployed when needed with experienced St John WA Paramedics and provide an opportunity to get on-the-ground experience ahead of careers in paramedicine.

St John WA is delivering additional specialist training to paramedicine students at Edith Cowan University to enable students to deploy with emergency ambulance services in the event of a disaster.

The new surge workforce program provides Western Australia’s emergency ambulance service with a reserve team which can deploy as volunteers to support the response to major incidents involving multiple casualties.

Under the expanded partnership between ECU and St John, all 52 students who have signed up to join the program will receive mass casualty and disaster principles training.

  • 33 students will receive specialized training to become St John Emergency Medical Assistants (EMAs), further bolstering the response capabilities during surge events with the aid of ECU.
  • 19 students are already trained through St John WA’s volunteer system and will join the surge workforce team.

Training for the participating students is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of July. The time students spend volunteering with St John WA will also contribute to completing their required clinical hours as part of their studies, helping cement their paramedicine careers. All expenses covered by St John WA.

St John WA Head of Specialist Operations Joe Cuthbertson said the collaboration between St John WA and ECU signified a significant step forward in preparing for and responding to emergency situations in WA.

“By harnessing the skills and dedication of ECU Paramedicine students, the surge workforce program aims to ensure a robust emergency response system, capable of effectively managing high-demand scenarios,” Mr Cuthbertson said.

“This program contributes to St John WA’s organisational resilience for surge events such as natural hazards like bushfires, cyclones and floods.”

Edith Cowan University Associate Dean of Allied Health, Associate Professor David Reid said the university was pleased to support the surge workforce program and further the partnership with St John WA for the benefit of the WA public.

“With its robust program design, this collaboration between ECU and St John WA will support ambulance response, whilst promoting high-quality and safe patient care,” Dr Reid said.

“Our paramedicine students will gain supervised experience in the ambulance environment, being able to directly relate their surge workforce activities back to their university studies.”

St John WA has more than 4000 Country Ambulance volunteers in a range or roles which responded to almost 80,000 Triple Zero (000) emergency cases in FY 22-23. To learn more about volunteering with St John WA, visit

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