As a paramedic, Gina is confronted by crises every day. These are the ones that affect her the most.

When she was five years old Gina Glazer was captivated by ambulances. The uniforms. The flashing lights and sirens. The speed at which they’d race by.

Sixteen years later, she earned herself that uniform. At 22, the Sydney woman is one of the youngest paramedics in the New South Wales Ambulance service, and she’s still just as captivated.

“I love being able to help people, and I love being able to learn people’s stories are what got them to where they are now,” she tells Mamamia. “The human interaction I have in this job. It’s just amazing.”

There’s no such thing as an average day for Gina. Based from the Sydney Ambulance Centre in Eveleigh, her shift begins at 6:15am and ends at 7 that night, though rarely does she finish on time. Call-outs can be related to anything from intoxication to childbirth, road accidents to attempted suicides. While speaking to us, she’s flagged down to attend to a man who’s overdosed on heroin.

“Nothing can prepare you for what you experience each day,” she said. “When you’re at university you have to ride-along, where you spend a couple of weeks on the ambulance, but it’s not the same as when the responsibility falls into your hands.”

But of all the cases she and her colleagues attend, as documented on Channel 10 series Ambulance Australia, there are some that tend to sit with Gina the most in her quiet moments.

“I’ve been to a couple of elderly people who have been stuck at home; they have no family or anyone looking after them, and when we arrive there’s no food in the fridge, they’ve been urinating and defecating where they sit, because they don’t have the strength to get out of the chair,” she said.

“Just seeing that is absolutely heartbreaking, knowing that they’re totally alone… I just feel so, so sorry for those people.”


Also hard to shake are domestic violence-related call-outs. One in six Australian women report having experienced physical or sexual violence by current or former partner, and police around the country attend such a matter every two minutes.

While we read these statistics over and over, Gina is confronted with the reality of them, of what it looks like behind closed doors.

“I think domestic violence happens a lot more than the layperson would think. Of course, we tend to see it at its worst,” she said. “The ones that [weigh on me], in particular, have children involved. It just makes it all a whole lot more complicated; you see them wanting the one parent and the other parent, and there’s police involved. It’s awful.

“It happens in all communities in all walks of life; from those who are affluent, to those who might be at a lower socio-economic level. You can’t suspect that it wouldn’t be occurring to someone. When you get let into people’s houses you realise that.”

Though Gina is generally too exhausted at the end of the day to lose sleep, some days it takes mind-numbing videos or podcasts to stop her dwelling on what she’s seen. Support from colleagues and NSW Ambulance is also crucial.

But to her – and that five-year-old girl she used to be – it’s all worth it.

“Most important for me is at the end of the job or an encounter, when we drop the patient at hospital, is when they turn to us or their family member turns to us and they just say, ‘thank you’. The man [who’d overdosed on heroin] that I just brought in off the street, he shook my hand. He’s like, ‘Thank you, miss. Thank you.’ It reaffirms my job, you know? I’ve saved his life,” she said.

“That ‘thank you’ is what I live for.”

Ambulance Australia airs Tuesdays at 7:30pm on Channel 10, and TenPlay.

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