A handbook for ambulance personnel published in 1970 made no bones about the “limited nature” of duties female ambulance staff could perform.
Now women working for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) have given their opinions of the advice offered in the book – A Complete Handbook for Professional Ambulance Personnel – and shared their thoughts on gender equality to support International Women’s Day.
The theme of this year’s campaign is “Press for Progress” and it marks 100 years since women were given the right to vote. Much has changed in that time, including how females are regarded in the workplace.
The handbook, written by S Cripwell Morris, features a chapter entitled “The Role of the Ambulance Woman”.
It reads: “Female ambulance attendants are employed by some Authorities, but obviously the duties which they can perform normally have to be of a limited nature.
“Their true value comes in the daily transportation of the more mobile out-patients, using the sitting-car type of vehicle, and in dealing with old people and children.
“I would not in any way decry the worth of female ambulance attendants, because they do most certainly ease the out-patient work-load, allowing more double (male) crews to be available for emergency work.
“The female ambulance attendant would be advised to undergo a period of training similar to that of her male counterpart, especially comprehensive first aid, kinetics, the handling of the elderly, and good road-craft. But perhaps some special emphasis might be placed on those more sedentary aspects of the service, i.e., work in Control, preparation of work, etc., in case relief should be required in that department.”
Those words of advice are a far cry from how things are done at YAS in 2018 – with women playing key roles in all areas of the organisation.
Locality manager Beth Vernon said: “We don’t just do the outpatients anymore - we do all kinds of work. We’ve got lots of females that work really hard on the frontline and they’re seen as equals to males these days. There aren’t women’s jobs and men’s jobs anymore.”
Clinical supervisor Sue Nicholson added: “I’ve been in the ambulance service for 26 years and I’ve never worked at a ‘limited nature’ and I’ve never been required to.”
Pauline Archibald, head of service central delivery, said: “Women in the ambulance service, particularly in Yorkshire, are on a par with their male counterparts these days.”
YAS chairman Kath Lavery said: “As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I can assure you that women at Yorkshire Ambulance Service are equal and are playing a role right across the organisation. Regardless of what people perceive their role to be, we know what women’s role is - and it is absolutely everything.”