1st year Bachelor of Nursing/Paramedicine student, ACU Canberra Campus
A close personal encounter sealed forever Laura Bishop’s admiration for the paramedical services and her determination to follow in the same footsteps.
I was so excited, so happy, I started crying. I haven’t really received anything this big before.
The first year Bachelor of Nursing/Paramedicine student vividly recalls the day she returned home from school at age 11 to find her seven-week-old baby sister Ella had stopped breathing.
“The whole house was hysterical. Mum was screaming, I was bawling my eyes out. Mum had the phone in her hand but couldn’t dial triple zero because she was crying so much. I grabbed the phone and ran out to the backyard so I could hear,” Laura says.
After reaching Emergency Services, Laura and her 10-year-old sister Caitlin relayed instructions backwards and forwards to their mother, who managed to successfully revive Ella with CPR before the ambulance arrived.
Afterwards, Laura and Caitlin were lauded as heroes; they were awarded the Ambulance Service of NSW Star Award at their school assembly and featured on the TV show Triple Zero Heroes.
But what Laura chiefly remembers from that day, overlaying the trauma, was the incredible support her family received from the emergency staff.
“The paramedics who came—and one in particular, Fiona—had a big influence on me,” she says. “Fiona just stuck by us the whole time, and kept in touch over the next few weeks, checking to see how we were. We would see them on the street and they would always ask, ‘How are you going?’ That really stuck with me.
“I was always attracted to the health sciences and caring for people, but that experience really confirmed it for me. At school, I would see all the paramedic vans drive past and think, ‘That’s going to be me one day’.”
When it came to choosing where to study, the ACU Canberra Campus was the immediate choice for the regional NSW girl, who says she feels right at home in the close-knit campus community.
“It was really the environment. It’s not as overwhelming as other unis—it was much more suited to me. The facilities and the support the teachers give you, the smaller class sizes, all make it a lot easier to learn.”
Another factor making the decision easy was winning the Calvary John James Hospital Excellence in Nursing and Paramedicine Scholarship, worth $2500. It was another highly emotional experience—but this time for all the right reasons.
“I was so excited, so happy, I actually started crying,” Laura says. “I got on the phone straight away to Mum and Dad. They were really proud and excited for me. I haven’t really received anything this big before.
“It’s pretty overwhelming being in first year uni, and scholarships really take a burden of stress off your shoulders with financial costs. Most students are working hard outside of uni as well to support themselves.
“For me, it meant I was able to afford my paramedic and nursing uniforms, the books I needed, and it helped with rent.
“It also gave me a lot of confidence for starting the course. It really made me want to give it my best shot.”