New South Wales' first female paramedic proudly remembers her time serving in the Riverina.
Lee Clout decided to become a paramedic after realising nursing wasn't for her.
"With a name like Lee, most of my class presumed I was male until I entered the classroom for the first time," she said.
"My only request ... was that I must wear pants or jeans."
Ms Clout started in Wagga in May 1979, for a 12-month buddy up with a senior trainer.
"My first trainer was an English gentleman who proved to be a great mentor and trainer, with a wicked sense of humour but instilled in me a pride in the profession I had chosen no matter what the circumstances.
In September 1979, Ms Clout was sent back to Rozelle for her second class and induction into the big wide world as an ambulance officer before being sent to Tumut, where she worked on her own a lot.
"It was in Tumut I recognised the desperate need for the community to have access to first aid, for selfish reasons I guess, when you work on your own it is nice to have someone assist who has a little idea of what is needed," she said.
"I taught first aid until 4 years ago. It was a time of struggle for ambos trying to get support for two officers to a vehicle."
Ms Clout said her Tumut mentors and peers where some of the best.
"They taught me how to cope on my own, to use bystanders, to do the best I could with the limited resources we had available and to cope with the thought processes that questioned every time you lost a patient or questioned the why or could I have done better," she said.
"Our local Tumut Doctor stopped me from leaving 10 months into my service after two traumatic incidents in six days. I felt this was too much for a 20-year-old to cope with. He reminded me that when I chose this career it was because I care."
Ms Clout said she very adamant that she be treated exactly the same as the men to prove females could do the job as well as their male counterparts.
"I don't think I would change anything," she said.
"I left the Ambulance Service in 1984 and returned for another five years in 1994 in the role of coordination officer when the Coordination centre was being relocated from Wagga to Wollongong I chose to stay in Wagga, where I joined the NSW Police for 11 years."
Ms Clout is proud of her work and to have paved the way for other women to join and fondly remembers the incredible people she worked with.
"They were fabulous, caring and professional men and women who gave themselves physically and mentally to help others," she said.
"We didn't have any official support, we relied on each other, we cried together, laughed together, we listened, we talked, we disagreed but we kept each other sane."
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