Ambulance Australia: The Paramedic Couples Who Met On The Front Line
Saving people's lives is not your average date night.
Ashley Panta, 28, and Ben Laws, 26, met while working as paramedics for the Queensland Ambulance Service.
"We mostly saw each other at hospitals, which is kind of like the social meeting ground for paramedics," Laws told 10 daily.
"Every time I'd rock up at a hospital, I'd look around for Ash and hope I'd run into her."
Panta said the couple aren't out on the road much together and their crew is supportive of their romance.
"There are definitely plenty of other paramedic couples on the road and I don't think it's much of a surprise when you see other couples are dating," she said.
I found my best mate and soulmate in the ambulance service so it's been really good.
The pair also got to share Christmas together when their workmates swapped shifts so the couple could spend the holiday together.
"We didn't do anything particularly difficult, it was just nice to spend that time together even though it was at work," Panta said.
"The patient would say 'you must be missing your family' ... and I'd say she's actually up the front driving," Laws said.
Working shifts means the couple don't see each other as often as they'd like.
But Panta said it's good to have someone who understands what is involved in the job and the life of a shift worker.
"We both understand how stressful this job can be at times and it's good to both be on the same page and be able to help each other out as well," she said.
"It's really hard to go out to a big job and go home after a really long shift and go straight to bed," Laws said.
"So it's really great when you get home and can have a quick chat about the job and you run through it, I think that helps."
For paramedics, Jan Burdekin, 40, and Andrew Roberts, 40, having a partner who is also an emergency services worker means there is an underlying understanding, especially when it comes to not being available for important life milestones.
Burdekin, who has been in the QAS for nine years, said being a paramedic means you need to be available to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week including public holidays, Christmas, Easter and birthdays.
"Having someone in the service certainly helps with the understanding of overtime," she said.
"If you're in the middle fo a job you can't just leave at five o'clock, you need to see it out."
The pair first met when Burdekin was a paramedic in training. Now they are proud parents to two children.
"Generally when I’m at work, Jan is at home and vice versa. I do miss the opportunity to have some stints working together," Roberts said, adding he has plenty of memories of the pair's time on the road together.
Roberts, who has 16 years' experience under his belt, reflected on a time when the couple were sent to a highway crash.
"Once things had settled down, and everything had been done that needed to be done we both looked at each other while standing in the middle of a closed Bruce Highway and said, 'we’d better organise someone to pick up the kids because we’re going to be late!'" he said.
"So many of the memories from times we’ve been working together are just brief little vignettes, that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience," he said.
"Working Christmas together before we had children ... a New Year’s Eve spent working at the Woodford Folk Festival."
The couple also teamed up for season three of Network 10's Ambulance Australia. It meant they worked together for an entire month.
Burdekin said the pair had a running joke at the end of each shift about whether or not Roberts would still 'accept her rose' after working together so much -- playing off 'The Bachelorette' which was airing at the time.
"We were both wondering how that was going to go, but we both survived," Burdekin said.
She said the couple were grateful that their friends stepped in to help take care of their children while they filmed.
"Not too many couples get to share that sort of experience, in years to come our girls will be able to watch the show and see what mum and dad do at work," Roberts said.
Asked whether they hoped their children would one day follow in their footsteps, Burdekin said she would be happy as long they decided to pursue a career in which they helped and were kind to other people.
"I’ll be happy for them to do whatever they’re passionate about," Roberts said.
"As a senior paramedic, I get the opportunity to positively influence developing paramedics, by sharing my experiences with them," he added.
"There is no doubt we get exposed to some bad people and situations, but the overwhelming experience is a positive one, and one I wouldn’t swap for the world."
For more Aussie paramedic stories watch Ambulance Australia season three, Thursday nights from 7.30pm on Network 10.