Paramedic without a partner or an ambulance says experience is 'not such a novelty'
Updated July 21, 2019 00:06:40
A social media post written by the only paramedic on duty in a Hobart suburb on Friday night — with no ambulance at the station — has characterised it as “just another day in the Tasmanian health crisis”.
The paramedic wrote that he was the only one working in Glenorchy, while the station’s ambulance was ramped at the Royal Hobart Hospital.
“Everyone loves turning up to work and finding there’s nothing to do. But when you’re the only overnight paramedic for a city of nearly 50,000 people, including your own family, it’s not such a novelty,” he posted.
“Nearly a decade of budget savings has pushed us to the point where our ambulances are old and failing, and our paramedics and communications officers are worked beyond breaking point.
“So as a result I sit here alone, with no partner and no ambulance. In a city of 50,000 people. Just another day in the Tasmanian health crisis.”
The paramedic later spoke to the ABC and confirmed the posting.
Patient’s relative forced to drive ambulance
The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) said it was aware that three of the six urban ambulances in Southern Tasmania were operated by single officers on Friday night.
It was believed six paramedics from Tasmania’s north were staying in a hotel in the state’s south to help cover shifts.
Last month, a patient’s family member was forced to drive an ambulance to the Royal Hobart Hospital after a horror 24 hours saw a paramedic attend a job alone.
Another paramedic was forced to wait at a scene with a patient who had badly broken bones for almost two hours due to no back-up being available.
HACSU assistant secretary Robbie Moore said paramedics were operating on their own far too often.
“It happened last night. It’s happened last weekend, and it’s happening during the week. It’s totally unacceptable,” he said.
“The post that we saw last night just demonstrates how frustrated paramedics are.
“They are taking this action which is unprecedented, simply because of the crisis we’re seeing in the ambulance system.”
Police, Fire and Emergency Management Minister Mark Shelton said the State Government was addressing understaffing as a priority.
“As part of an election commitment there are more paramedics being rolled out to regional areas across Tasmania,” he said.
“That’s our policy, and we’ll be making sure that where under staffing is a problem that’s a priority area for the Government.”
Labor MP David O’Byrne said it was heartbreaking.
“It’s not the only time they’ve been forced, or feel like they’ve got no option but to post something so horrific on Facebook,” he said.
“It’s not a demand for the government, it’s a cry for help.”
In a statement, Ambulance Tasmania Chief Executive Neil Kirby said there was a higher than usual number of unavailable staff in the state’s south this weekend.
“Staff are entitled to take leave or be unavailable for additional shifts, so when short-term illness leave spikes, resourcing can become challenging,” he said.
“In terms of responding to the increasing demands on our paramedics, we are commencing interviews for additional paramedic positions and these will come on line in the coming months.”
First posted July 20, 2019 14:54:21