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Extending the paramedic role in rural Australia : a story of flexibility and innovation

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journal contribution
posted on 2012-04-01, 00:00 authored by P O'Meara, V Tourle, C Stirling, J Walker, Daryl Pedler
Introduction: This article identifies trends in the evolving practice of rural paramedics and describes key characteristics, roles and expected outcomes for a Rural Expanded Scope of Practice (RESP) model.

Methods: A multiple case study methodology was employed to examine the evolution of rural paramedic practice. Paramedics, volunteer ambulance officers and other health professionals were interviewed in four rural regions of south-eastern Australia where innovative models of rural paramedic practice were claimed to exist. The research team collected and thematically analysed the data using the filter of a sociological framework throughout 2005 and 2006.

Results: The study found that paramedics are increasingly becoming first line primary healthcare providers in small rural communities and developing additional professional responsibilities throughout the cycle of care.

Conclusions: Adoption of the RESP model would mean that paramedics undertake four broad activities as core components of their new role: (1) rural community engagement; (2) emergency response; (3) situated practice; and (4) primary health care. The model’s key feature is a capacity to integrate existing paramedic models with other health agencies and health professionals to ensure that paramedic care is part of a seamless system that provides patients with well-organized and high quality care. This expansion of paramedics’ scope of practice offers the potential to improve patient care and the general health of rural communities.



Rural and remote health






1 - 13


Australian Rural Health Education Network


Deakin West, A. C. T.





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2012, Australian Rural Health Education Network