St John dilutes ban on alcohol in blood
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”.