‘You’re Always Getting Better’: Paramedic Shelly Pringle Returns To Ambulance Australia

Paramedic Shelly Pringle opens up about what she loves about the job, and returning for another season of Ambulance Australia.

Advanced Care Paramedic Shelly Pringle celebrated her fourth year of working in emergency services this week. Unlike many of her coworkers, Shelly admitted she didn’t have a “cool story” about the moment she decided to become a paramedic.

“I’m not too sure how it happened,” she admitted to 10 play. Though she had always been interested in emergency services, Shelly first found herself working as a paralegal.

“I realised I hated the office gig and then one night, over dinner at Sizzler, realised I was going to become a paramedic instead. There was not much thought put into it, just over some cheesy toast,” she laughed.

Though she’s been working with the Queensland Ambulance Service for several years, Shelly still described herself as a “baby” in the field.

“Four years, you’re starting to find your feet, becoming pretty confident, but at the same time you still feel so new.”

As Ambulance Australia returns for an all new season, Aussie will once again be able to ride along with Shelly and her co-workers, seeing what a day looks like for paramedics across Australia. Over the years, the series has been able to shine a light on what work really looks like for paramedics.

“I think people think we go into big jobs all day every day, and we’re always saving lives and doing really crazy things, and that’s not really the case,” Shelly explained.

“Most of our job is really low-acuity, social conversations with people and maybe being a hand to hold or do a couple of things for someone, take them to a safe space.

“When we actually do the big jobs it’s kind of a surprise for us as well because we don’t go to them that often.”

The series kicks off with Shelly and Shane, series veterans, heading to a code 1A emergency, exactly the rare kind of ‘big job’ Shelly doesn’t encounter that often.


“That was a big learning curve for me… I think maybe was the first time I’ve actually been patient care like that,” Shelly said.

Though rare, those big jobs aren’t an emotional toll for Shelly but she said she sees them as a challenge, an opportunity to learn and grow in the field.

“Obviously you’re a little bit anxious as to what you’re going to see and be confronted with, but it’s about stepping up and taking control of the job. The more you go to, the more confident you’re going to become with those jobs,” she added.

“You’re always learning in this job, you’re always getting better and developing clinical skills and knowledge, seeing different things every day.”

Over 2020-21, the Queensland Ambulance service had over 1.4 million responses, the most of any state. Across the huge variety of incidents that require ambulance resources to respond, it’s not always the big codes that are the most difficult.

“I have a really soft spot for the oldies,” Shelly admitted, “so I struggle a little bit with nursing home jobs or going to the home of an elderly couple that have been together 50 years and one is quite sick or injured and you know they won’t be returning to that home.

“They might go to a nursing home or have quite a prolonged stay at a hospital,” she continued. “Those are the jobs I go home a little bit sad about sometimes. It’s not always the car crashes and things that people think, but we all have our different triggers.”

But after four years, there’s still a lot to love in a job that is completely different day-to-day.


“I still love meeting different people every day,” Shelly said. “It is such a unique opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, go into their homes, workplaces, even in public settings.

“We all have our social circles and family groups, but we have this unique opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, which is awesome,” she added.

“And the other perk that doesn’t get talked about enough is meeting all their pets! We get to pat a lot of cats and dogs which is really, really great,” she said, laughing.

Returning to Ambulance Australia for a second time, Shelly said it’s been a lot of fun being pushed so far out of her comfort zone, and working alongside her close friend Shane is the perfect opportunity.

“A good partner will make or break your shift at work and we’re so lucky,” she said of the pairing. “All ambos seem to have pretty similar personalities, so you do get to build some close relationships.

“I got really lucky getting paired up with Shane… he’s taught me a lot and it’s just fun. I know I annoy him a little bit, and that’s why I love working with him! I think I’m the daughter he never wanted, but he got stuck with!”

Ambulance Australia airs Wednesdays, 7.30 on 10 and 10 play on demand