St John di­lutes ban on al­co­hol in blood

North West Telegraph - - News - Cathy O'Leary

The State’s am­bu­lance ser­vice has in­tro­duced a pol­icy that al­lows of­fi­cers and vol­un­teers who are called to work un­ex­pect­edly to have a small al­co­hol read­ing.

In an ex­cep­tion to its zero-tol­er­ance ap­proach, St John Am­bu­lance will al­low per­son­nel who are not ros­tered on but re­ceive a call to at­tend work to have a blood al­co­hol con­cen­tra­tion of 0.02.

But some am­bu­lance of­fi­cers and paramedics are un­happy about the move, ar­gu­ing not even small amounts of al­co­hol should be al­lowed in peo­ple who might be re­quired to drive at high speed or pro­vide emer­gency first aid.

One source said a 0.02 BAC limit would be dif­fi­cult to en­force and con­trol.

It is un­der­stood the change is partly to ac­com­mo­date St John’s vol­un­teer work­force, on which it re­lies heav­ily, par­tic­u­larly in re­mote and re­gional ar­eas.

The new drug and al­co­hol pol­icy, un­veiled to staff last week, states all per­son­nel, whether em­ploy­ees or vol­un­teers, are re­quired to be fit for work at all times while per­form­ing their du­ties.

Rrostered staff will con­tinue to have to meet a zero BAC.

A St John Am­bu­lance spokesman said the ser­vice was com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing a safe and healthy work en­vi­ron­ment. It fol­lowed ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion.

“The pol­icy sets a BAC of 0.00 for all ros­tered per­son­nel, mean­ing an em­ployee or vol­un­teer who has been ros­tered to work or no­ti­fied of their re­quire­ment to work at a par­tic­u­lar time with a min­i­mum of 24 hours no­tice,” he said.

“Per­son­nel, other than ros­tered per­son­nel, who re­ceive a call to at­tend work are re­quired to de­ter­mine if they are fit for work.”

The spokesman said sev­eral fac­tors had been con­sid­ered in in­tro­duc­ing the 0.02 limit, in­clud­ing WA’s Road Traf­fic Act which sets a 0.02 limit for driv­ers of ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers for “hire or re­ward”.

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