Case Study: Volunteer Training

The organisation

The ambulance service covers the largest territory of any single ambulance service in the world. While the metropolitan area and large regional centres are serviced by a staff of paid paramedics country towns have a volunteer ambulance sub-centres. There are over 160 of these spread across the State including some very remote areas.

Simultaneous to the training project was a state-wide rollout of “Community Paramedics”. These paramedics were assigned to a geographical area covering up to 6 locations. Their job was to train and support the volunteers.

Ambulance volunteers must undertake a high level of training to ensure that they are clinically competent to treat patients. Traditionally this had been delivered by paramedic trainers in 2 week blocks. A substantial amount of equipment would be delivered to the location ahead of time. Printed training manuals would also be delivered. Volunteer would have to requalify every 2 years.

The training was internal only and not accredited to any standards. As there is no Ambulance Act in there were no specific legal obligations for training standards. The ethical obligation was significant.



The problem

At the time there were approximately 3000 volunteers at across 160 locations.

There were not enough trainers to deliver training on time to so many locations. Many locations were operating with volunteers who’s training had lapsed. In some locations there had been no trainer visits for several years. Many volunteers felt uncertain of their skills.

There were frequently problems when equipment was not available at the required times or was not delivered in time for training.

Printed training manuals were frequently updated. Often training sessions would begin with printed updates being handed around and pages replaced in the manual. Often training manuals would not be delivered on time.

Each location maintained a “skills manual” possibly several copies. This detailed the steps of every clinical procedure. These were frequently updated and paper copies delivered to the sub centre for volunteers to update the manual. The process was unreliable and skills manuals were often out of date.


The project

Redesign volunteer training with the objective of ensuring volunteers were trained to be competent and confident do their job. Delivery of training must be timely, ensuring that volunteers are promptly trained and able to deliver services to their community as quickly as possible.


Stakeholder Engagement

Following discussion with all identified stakeholder groups a project team was assembled with representation from each group.


End user consultation

The project team developed a survey which was opened to all volunteers and staff affected to give feedback on what they wanted to gain from volunteer training.


The Project

  • Read the Executive Brief here
  • Sample Team Workshop
  • Power point presenting the new model to end users