The College began as the Institute of Ambulance Officers (Australia) – known as the ‘Institute’. The first recorded meeting of individuals to discuss the establishment of an Australian Institute of Ambulance Officers was conducted in Melbourne on 20 June 1971.
Mr Laurie Shea, Vice-Chairman of the Ambulance Commission of Tasmania, convened the meeting "as it seemed apparent that there was a need for a body to bring together ambulance officers in Australia with a specific aim of increasing their professional competence and provide a forum for the exchange of technical information between leaders in allied disciplines and between ambulance leaders themselves”.
The inaugural meeting of the Institute was held in Canberra at the Academy of Science on 30 July 1973; this meeting was to become the first Annual General Meeting of the Institute of Ambulance Officers (Australia). Over time, branches (or chapters) were established in each state and territory of Australia and the organisation matured into a vibrant professional body.
In 2000, the organisation changed its name to the Australian College of Ambulance Professionals, commonly referred to as ‘ACAP’ or the ‘College’.
In November 2011, a New Zealand Chapter of the College was established.
There was upheaval in the organisation during 2011–12 with the establishment of two separate representative entities, Paramedics Australasia (PA) and the Australasian College of Paramedicine. A period of competition saw both organisations progress and drive improvement in services to paramedics.
In 2018, initial discussions took place to bring PA and ANZCP together for the betterment of the profession, with successful discussions leading to members from both organisations voting to join together to form the Australasian College of Paramedicine from 1 March 2020.