10 January 2023

They say variety is the spice of life and one would be hard-pressed to fit more variety into Amy O’Brien’s job. Her 12 years of working for Aspen Medical has taken her to Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands, and all over Australia; on land, sea, and in the air.

As a paramedic, she needs to be prepared for anything and everything, from a search and rescue mission following a mustering accident to treating irunkanji stings or preventing cardiac arrest in a heart attack victim. She’s travelled in four-wheel drive vehicles and flown in helicopters and jets while working for Aspen Medical in the oil and gas, and mining industries.

Amy thrives on the diversity Aspen Medical has given her. ‘I like the people I work with, I travel to rural and remote settings, and am paid to have experiences the average person wouldn’t. What’s not to love?’ 

She’s seen history first-hand – rusted World War II ’planes at Truscott airfield on the Anjo Peninsula - and rejoiced in incredible views, when aboard a helicopter following a rig being towed from Broome to Darwin.

These days she spends a month at a time on a vessel as the resident paramedic for 20 crew members, followed by a month at home in Queensland. ‘I like having my work done in one month followed by a month of quality time with family and friends,’ she says. It’s the perfect work-life balance for her.

When at sea, Amy enjoys her routine-driven days. These include daily drills, such as fire, toxic gas, or person overboard practices.

She runs First Aid classes on board, gives talks on safety issues, and manages the medical clinic, ensuring all stores are present and up to date. ‘On any day I’ll treat anything from seasickness to a musculoskeletal injury sustained when there was a sudden jolt of the vessel.’

While she works as a sole practitioner, Amy has 24-hour access to a doctor for any advice she may need and keeps up to date with continuing professional development courses. She is also doing additional study and is halfway through a nursing degree.

It’s a sociable lifestyle on board and, after five years, Amy knows the crew members well and is used to the small living environment. ‘Everyone pulls their weight, cleaning up after each meal and so on. We have a lot of fun together, playing darts or cards in the evening, and going for walks when we sometimes get off the boat.

‘We have time for daily workouts, and I walk around the outer decks to keep fit. Just the other day I looked out at the open ocean and thought, “I’ll miss you when I get home.” I love working in the tropics where it’s warm and toasty.

‘I get to swim with turtles and see remote parts of Australia few people visit.’ One of these spots is Careening Bay on Western Australia’s Kimberley Coast. Here Amy saw a magnificent boab tree, more than 200 years old. ‘A carpenter carved the words HMS Mermaid on it when the mapping ship stopped here for repairs in 1820.

‘Some of my colleagues say they wouldn’t like to work on a ship. It’s not for them. So, before you apply, I suggest you go on a cruise to see if you like the water. It’s a very big ocean and there’s no getting off once you’re on!’

Interested in a job like this?

According to Amy, working as paramedic at sea, you will need to:

  • be a team player
  • be confident and comfortable practicing alone
  • be prepared to be seasick now and then
  • have a routine to maintain your own mental and physical health and wellbeing
  • have a solid foundation of core knowledge
  • be up for adventure

For more information about joining Aspen Medical’s clinical team, email our Recruitment team.                                               

Woman taking a selfie whilst out walking in nature
Amy O'Brien
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