Scholarships bring confidence boost to vollies

Press Release
  • Six country volunteers are set to study emergnecy pre-hospital health care thanks to a new scholarship from the Australian Paramedical College,
  • Scholarship provides a pathway to paid work in the pre-hospital care sector,
  • Joint initiative between St John and the Australian Paramedical College.

Scholarships to study emergency pre-hospital health care have been awarded to six regional St John WA volunteers, helping to boost the confidence of first responders in country Western Australia.

The volunteers will start their studies this month through the Australian Paramedical College, providing them with a pathway to paid work in the pre-hospital care sector and entry to Bachelor degree programs in paramedicine across Australia.

St John WA Head of Country Ambulance Operations, Justin Fonte, congratulated the recipients saying it demonstrated St John’s belief in its volunteers and its investment in Western Australia’s regional communities.

The recipients include:

  • Phillip Stewart –Williams sub centre
  • Jodie Thomson –Northam sub centre
  • Abbey Hay –Kalgoorlie-Boulder sub centre
  • Jack Hanson –Carnarvon sub centre
  • Claire Stringer –Kalbarri sub centre
  • Beth Trezona –Tambellup sub centre

Mr Fonte said being able to complete clinical placement hours with St John paramedics in their regional teams would help increase the confidence of volunteers when interacting with the broader healthcare sector, particularly country hospitals.

“Our volunteers have already shown they have an amazing aptitude for emergency pre-hospital care and this nationally-recognised diploma will give them the language to communicate much of the skills St John already delivers to its country patients,” Mr Fonte said.

Director of Education at Australian Paramedical College, Simon Sawyer, said the college was very proud to partner with St John WA in delivering high quality pre-hospital emergency care to the WA community.

“We look forward to delivering exceptionally well-trained Emergency Health Care Diploma students to WA’s ambulance sector upon completion of their studies,” Dr Sawyer said.

“Since the diploma is predominantly delivered online, these scholarship recipients will be able to continue volunteering and working throughout their studies.”

The six recipients were selected based on their response to three criteria in an expressions of interest process, and the number of volunteer hours they had performed in the past year.

Abbey Hay – Kalgoorlie-Boulder

Abbey Hay actionMs Hay said she was passionate about providing the best care possible for patients and believed the further study would help her to improve her service delivery. When not volunteering, Ms Hay works as a manager and draftsperson at a metal fabrication company. She contributed more than 300 service hours as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in 2022.

“In studying the diploma, I will be provided the opportunity to gain more in-depth understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of patient presentations, as well as pharmacology and protocols which will enable me to manage emergency situations more effectively,” Ms Hay said.

Beth Trezona – Tambellup

Beth T action

Being equipped to help in the event of mass casualties in rural Western Australia was one of the driving reasons behind Tambellup St John WA volunteer Beth Trezona’s desire to undertake further emergency pre-hospital health care training. 

“There is a high likelihood a volunteer ambulance crew would be the first emergency responders to arrive at a mass casualty scene in this area,” Ms Trezona said.

Jodie Thomson – Northam 

JThomson van

Northam scholarship recipient Jodie Thomson said her work as an EMT in the Avon Valley had opened her eyes to the invaluable role first responders played in saving lives, particularly in rural settings.  

“The humility of holding a patient’s hand, empathy of listening, reassuring and acknowledging family members, assessing a scene, having the courage to ask questions and make decisions, and to work as a team is all such as a privilege,” Ms Thomson said. 

Phillip Stewart – Williams


Father of three Phillip Stewart has been an EMT  for more than 15 years and a volunteer firefighter for a decade prior to that.  He said he was thrilled to learn he had been awarded the scholarship.

“As would be appreciated, being based in regional WA, at times communication can be challenging and this is when we need the additional knowledge for the treatment of our patients,” Mr Stewart said.  “Completing the diploma would arm me with additional skills that are much needed in our community.” 

Jack Hanson – Carnarvon

Carnarvon sub centre chairperson and local mechanic, Jack Hanson, was not long out of high school when he became a St John volunteer. Now the 22-year-old remains passionate about giving back to the Carnarvon community, where he has lived since 2016. 

“I was relatively young when I became an active volunteer with the ambulance service and I’ve grown into a capable and dedicated clinician, with the recent added responsibility of chairperson of the fifth busiest sub centre in regional WA,” Mr Hanson said. “I feel I have significantly more to offer the regional community.” 

Claire Stringer – Kalbarri


Kalbarri mother-of-three, Claire Stringer has been volunteering with St John for seven years and works full-time at the Kalbarri Health Centre as an administrative assistant.  

Ms Stringer was driven to apply for the scholarship because she hopes to pursue a degree in paramedicine after helping her community rebuild in the wake of Cyclone Seroja. 

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