Paramedics and premature babies: when what we do matters most


Each year an estimated 15 million babies are born pre-term each year.

Australian data reports an 8% premature birth rate which is approximately 26, 000 births per year. New Zealand has a slightly lower prem birth rate at 7% which equates to around 5000 births per year. Both indigenous Australians and Maori bear the highest burden of premature births, with rates of extreme prem births being as high as 85% in the indigenous populations of both countries.

The rate of unintentional premature birth before arrival (BBA) is reported at a rate of 0.4% of all births across Australia (Boland et al., 2017). This could be considered the epitome of the low frequency, high acuity case that paramedics are expected to attend and manage.

Premature birth remains the leading cause of death and disability in children up to 5 years of age.

This webinar has invited 4 parents of one or more premature babies to share their experiences and a panel discussion on premature birth and care for premature babies. These experiences will provide examples of the unique nature of all premature birth and three of the four parents are paramedics and have a unique insight into premature birth, premature babies, introduction to the management of prems and ex-prem babies and the different challenges these children face, especially in the first 2 years of their lives.

Host: Shonel Hall

Presenters: Alannah Morrison, Sally Birch, Beck Niere & Julie Johnson

Target audience: Student paramedics, Low acuity ambulance transport, Paramedic early career, Paramedics senior, Intensive care paramedics, Clinical educators.


Alannah Morrison Alannah has over 15 years experience as a paramedic and as an academic for the last 8 years and is also an active member of the ACP education committee. Currently the Executive Manager of Initial Services, overseeing the entry to service training for operational staff for the QAS. Alannah is also currently completing a PhD aiming to understand how paramedics navigate conveyance decisions and hopes that this research can translate to the educational space and support student and graduate paramedics prepare for the complex decisions ahead of them.

Sally Birch Sally is a mother of three, wife and an experience advanced care paramedic, working in various clinical and administrative roles with the Queensland ambulance service since 2007. Sally is mother to Luella ‘warrior’ Mary, who was born 28+1 on good Friday in 2019. Sadly Sally’s experience at private hospital was a harrowing one. Just days prior to Louella’s birth, she knew there was something wrong and repeatedly advocated for herself and her child only to be told that there was ‘nothing wrong’. Despite being a clinician with years of experience and a mother to two full term babies, Sally’s concerns were repeatedly dismissed. Sally was eventually transferred, but unfortunately too late for her birth to be stalled and Lou was born very unwell and with a long road ahead. Lou started life battling sepsis as Sally suffered from severe chorioamnionitis. At her tiniest Lou was just 910grams and she was in the NICU for nearly 4 months. Lou underwent 3 lumbar punctures, 10 IV attempts and was on CPAP for an extended period of time. Lou is now 3 and is working her way through a list of health difficulties and getting support from her amazing family and NDIS. Since Lou’s birth, it has been anything but smooth sailing for Sally as she has had countless surgeries and complications since the severe infection that brought on her early birth. Sally is passionate about raising awareness for community health, particularly preventable causes of premature birth, still birth, disease pathways and mental health.

Beck Niere Beck is mum to three children. Kody, Ruby and Molly. Kody and Ruby were both born before 28 weeks. Beck will share her inspiring journey caring for premature babies. Kody spent 11 ½ months in the neonatal intensive care unit, however coming home wasn’t like bringing home a full term baby. There was home oxygen to manage, tube feeds, the worry of infections, excitement and trepidation all at once. Beck became his mum, his nurse, and his protector from risks most of us never even consider. Just someone reaching into his pram exposed Kody to the risk of infection. His story will challenge you to dive into your understanding of paediatric care. Beck was just 21 when Kody was born, she was thrust into a world of complex medical care that would make many paramedics nervous. How much can we learn from those who care for patients with complex medical needs, and how often do we consider them in our treatment decisions? After caring for one premature baby the prospects of having another premmie are daunting, Ruby arrived 12 weeks early. Hear how her story and early care were so different to Kody’s. The world of prematurity means often frequent paramedic attendance, but how much do we really know about their needs? Beck now works as a disability support worker applying all those years of hands on experience to helping others. Her story will amaze, inspire and prompt you to learn more about how to support and care for our little premmies in the early years of life.

Julie Johnson Julie is the College Manager of Education and is a Registered Paramedic, nurse and clinical educator. She has worked across many sectors in paramedics and nursing including state ambulance service, primary health care, emergency, non-emergency, and private paramedic practice in Vic and NSW. She has been working in the fields of health and education for 25 years, 17 of those in paramedicine. Julie has a special interest in education and holds Postgraduate qualifications in tertiary and higher education. She is currently undertaking Higher Degree Research (HDR) in paramedic education, investigating pathways to higher education and career extension.

Presented by Alannah Morrison, Sally Birch, Beck Niere, Julie Johnson & Shonel Hall



90 minutes
21st Nov 2022
Member free
Non-member $29
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