Down under in Brooklyn; Aussie students work with city ambulances

Even nearly 10,000 miles away from home, some students are eager to save lives.

As part of a medical program, a group of Australian paramedic students is touring Brooklyn and Manhattan with ambulances to bring New York City medical skills back home.

BRAVO Volunteer Ambulance Services welcomed 10 students from Central Queensland University in Australia to its headquarters in Bay Ridge on Thursday, July 30. They are in a program that the school and the Australian government fund to expand the students’ international opportunities.

To that end, the university sent a group of mostly undergraduate students working on their bachelor’s degrees in paramedics to accompany city ambulances as they respond to medical emergencies.

“I’ve enjoyed it immensely,” Teri-Lee Hayes, a sophomore, said. “It’s very different.”

The program started Monday, July 27 and lasts two weeks. Each student rides with an FDNY ambulance and helps paramedics with their daily response called, such as helping people who have fallen and assisting in resuscitating cardiac arrest victims.

“The training stations they’ve got here are amazing,” Tammy Zanker, a sophomore, said.

But aside from saving lives and taking in New York City, the students have travelled across oceans to expand their skill sets.

“They’re all here to learn about how paramedics and ambulances services in New York work,” said Brian Maguire, the program’s professor, who teaches paramedics at Central Queensland University. “The goal is to use that to improve paramedic services in Australia.”

For example, the students learned how to respond to high-intensity emergencies. According to Maguire, only one ambulance service covers Queensland, an Australian state from which most of the students hail.

However, because the ambulances have to respond to an area more than double the size of Texas, and because the hospitals are much further apart there, the students were accustomed to EMS ride-alongs that took at least an hour to get to a patient.

In New York, where paramedics are more often stationed on streets and hospitals are more closely clustered, the students have had to respond to emergencies quickly and at a much higher volume.

To expose his students to even more paramedic skills, Maguire, who was born and raised in Bay Ridge and volunteered at BRAVO for 20 years, brought them to its headquarters to learn about the ambulance service’s operations and history.

“It’s great that we get the students to come from Australia every year,” Jory Guttsman, BRAVO’s vice president of operations, said. “We love that we’re able to provide information for them as they embark on their EMS careers.”

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