A touching moment at a recent paramedic graduation ceremony has reinforced why Karen Nichols is regarded as more than just a trainer to her trainees.
Karen, the Acting Duty Operations Manager for the North Sydney & Central Coast Sector, was on hand to congratulate one of her trainees, Alex Conway, on becoming a qualified paramedic at the ceremony, held in Rozelle earlier this year.
After receiving their epaulettes at graduation, it’s common practice for newly-qualified paramedics to attach them to their uniform.
In the case of Alex, Karen had other ideas.
“I told her, ‘Don’t you dare put them on’,” Karen said. “I wanted to put them on her because I was so proud of her.
“She is an amazing paramedic and a really good human. “I definitely saw something in her straight away and as a mentor that’s something you want to harness.”
Alex – who this month commences her career as a P1 paramedic at Lake Cargelligo – said she was fortunate to have Karen as one of her mentors, praising the 22-year NSW Ambulance veteran for going above and beyond what was expected of her.
“It was really lovely (when Karen attached the epaulettes),” Alex said.
“A bit like a proud mum, she wanted to do it for me. “Part of being a great mentor (like Karen) is that they are empowering in how they treat you. It’s also giving you the opportunity to be involved in some big jobs, so later on you know what you are doing.”
After being guided by her at the start of his career, Jason Kirkaldy – who has been with NSW Ambulance for 10 years – is another paramedic who can vouch for Karen’s leadership skills. “She’s really personable and caring, and made sure that what I required and other junior staff required was always available,” he said.