Catherine McNamara's career is full of firsts - most of which have been defined by her gender.
When she joined the Tasmanian Ambulance Service in 1985 she was the only woman employed as a paramedic in the state.
Then three years later, she became the first female to qualify as a paramedic in Tasmania by completing the Certificate of Applied Science.
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She was then the first Tasmanian woman to become a clinical instructor and the first to perform operational roles including duty manager.
As her career progressed, so too did the list.
Now the statewide director of volunteer services with Ambulance Tasmania - the first to fill this role - Ms McNamara said she was proud to have paved the way for more women to enter an industry dominated by men.
This week she was among a group of frontline workers recognised as part of a luncheon hosted by the Clifford Craig Foundation for International Women's Day.
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Here, Ms McNamara reflected on the progress that has been made in recent years.
This included touching on one particular "make or break" moment from the beginning of her career.
"I was on night shift and was the only woman in what was then the Tasmanian Ambulance service," she recalled.
"My washing machine had broke so I had brought some clothes into work.
"When I came back from a job, every crew member in Southern Tasmania had been called in to the Ambulance station to see my reaction when I drove into the garage to find all my knickers hung up on display for everyone to see."
While Ms McNamara said something like this would never be allowed to happen in the workplace now, she was proud of how she had handled it at the time.
"That was one of those move forward or get out moments for me," she said.
"How I managed that then was going to make or break if I survived in the ambulance service.
"So my choice around that was to put it behind, move on and prove that women could do what needed to be done."
Now in a leadership position, Ms McNamara said she was most proud of the way her profession had transitioned into the tertiary education sector, along with more gender equality in the workforce.
"We have nearly 50 per cent in Ambulance Tasmania's clinical workforce who are women now. But we don't have nearly 50 per cent in management that are women," she said.
"That's our next frontier. We have to really encourage that space and support women to move into that space.
"For someone with my background in a profession that has seen such significant change in my lifetime, it's really important to celebrate women and what we have achieved."
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