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National Volunteer Week: Wendy

National Volunteer Week: Wendy

A passion for caring for people, a love of dogs and an eye for photography keeps Wellington Free Ambulance Paramedic Wendy happy.

Wellington Free Ambulance Paramedic Wendy

Wendy, a paramedic for over 20 years says the best part of her job is making a difference in people’s lives, “It feels good to help people, take their pain away or find solutions to their problems.

“There’s so many aspects to my job I love, there’s the medical side, the people and the camaraderie with my colleagues,” says Wendy.

She loves the driving too, it is a big part of her job.  “We don’t love to be called ambulance drivers though” she says candidly.  “Obviously we need to drive to get to and from our patients but there’s a whole lot more in between,” she says.

There are the challenges and every job is different, working as a paramedic involves a lot of thinking on your feet, says Wendy.  Then there are the difficult times where a positive outcome is not always achieved.

“For me as long as I have done the very best I can for a patient I accept that there are times when we may not be able to save someone,” explains Wendy.

There are the cases that affect you over the years, she says but there are great support programs in place at Wellington Free and paramedics are pretty tight, “everybody looks out for everybody else.”

Volunteering at the Hutt City Council’s Animal shelter in Lower Hutt for the past five years gives Wendy the opportunity to provide care in a different environment, this time to canine friends.

She says she started to really miss contact with dogs after losing her own and was aware there were volunteers at the pound that walked and fostered shelter dogs so she put her hand up to volunteer.

“I had a little dog that I got from the pound a number of years ago who died suddenly and it broke my heart,” says Wendy.  “I didn’t think I could get another dog because of the grief I experienced.”

With the half-hearted intention of adopting a dog if one came along Wendy eased herself into volunteering, also offering to put her amateur photography skills to good use. “I take extra photos for the shelter’s Facebook page to encourage people to adopt,” she says.

Soon after she started, Wendy met fox terrier-cross Bear who was sick and needing a foster home to recuperate in. “I really liked him but told myself ‘no I’m not adopting the first dog that I see’”. 

Wendy had envisioned a bigger dog…a black dog…a girl dog. “That was five years ago and I’ve still got him,” she laughs.

She hasn’t fostered for a while but if the need arose she would. “It’s about taking a dog out of the shelter environment and putting them into a home environment, treating them as another pet in the family in preparation for their forever home.”

Wendy walks a shelter dog once a week for an hour or so. “There aren’t many difficult ones, by the time they are ready to be walked they are pretty much ready for adoption.”

Not all dogs know how to walk on leads though and some can be quite distracted. “I did have one slip the lead and run all the way back to the shelter, staff thought it was hilarious and I was mortified,” says Wendy.

She recognises the benefits of volunteering for both herself and the shelter. “I love the dog contact, the exercise and taking photos. I’ve also made friends with the staff.”

“The exercise is good for the dogs, and it helps raise the shelter’s profile. People see me out and about in my high vis vest that reads ‘Hutt City Council Dog Walker’”.

It is a great conversation starter especially with the cute dogs and the not so cute ones have great personalities, says Wendy.

“Often people will see the dog, pat and talk to it and I always make the offer for them to adopt it.”

Volunteering fits in perfectly with her job as a paramedic, “I don’t have a set day that I volunteer but I normally do it on one of my days off, it’s a nice way to do a little bit of community service,” says Wendy.


Fancy joining Wendy and the Event Medic team? If you’re interested in volunteering with Wellington Free Ambulance can find more on our volunteer page.

If you’re keen to help your community, we would love to hear from you.



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