Category seven – Injured worker achievement award
Katherine was working as a senior clinical educator and critical care paramedic when she slipped and fell in the plant room of the ambulance station. She landed awkwardly on her elbow with her full body weight. This shattered her elbow, dislocated her forearm bones, tore ligaments in her wrist, partially dislocated an AC joint and tore pectoral muscles from her chest wall.
She endured significant pain, numerous surgeries and physiotherapy on her road to recovery. It meant that she was unable to return to operational duty as a paramedic for almost a year. It also affected her home life as she had previously been physically active, regularly exercising and keeping up with her four children. She struggled, and lost confidence and had bouts of depression during her recovery.
With strong support from her family, friends and co-workers Katherine went back to work. She had to adjust to her limitations and take things more slowly at work and in her home life but she learnt to be patient and even took up meditation to help create a more positive mindset.
She returned to work in her normal role with reduced hours and work limitations (suitable duties) in between surgeries. She also conducted a small project for the organisation. Her employer accommodated her shortened hours, encouraged her to work a flexible roster to fit around physiotherapy and specialist appointments, checked in on her at the hospital and drove her around.
Katherine says it was important for her to return to work because it helped her to feel normal again.
“As a member of a team, I feel valued, which has helped me gain confidence back in my own abilities which is exceptionally important.”