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Para­medic says hav­ing to work alone has made the job much more stress­ful

Campaspe News - - FRONT PAGE - By KIM­BER­LEY PRICE

LAST Mon­day, a pub­lic meet­ing was held in Rochester Shire Hall with Am­bu­lance Vic­to­ria’s act­ing Lod­don Mallee re­gional di­rec­tor Andy Roughton to dis­cuss the crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion with am­bu­lance ser­vices to the area.

Ser­vic­ing Rochester and the sur­round­ing ar­eas — plus the ap­prox­i­mately 7000 cars that travel through every day — the am­bu­lance sta­tion is cur­rently be­ing manned by only one para­medic, with sup­port from am­bu­lance com­mu­nity of­fi­cers (ACO) when avail­able.

In an eight-week pe­riod there were 18 call-outs, the ma­jor­ity of which were re­sponded to by Frank Hof­mann, who spoke at the pub­lic meet­ing and high­lighted how dif­fi­cult the job had be­come.

‘‘It is cer­tainly dif­fi­cult to do our job with one set of hands,’’ he said.

‘‘It is get­ting in­creas­ingly harder to do what we’re there for — which is to get the best for our pa­tients.

‘‘The added stress lev­els are im­mense.

‘‘As a sin­gle para­medic, it can be stress­ful enough when work­ing with an ACO, but you can just imag­ine what it’s like by your­self.

‘‘When we have paramedics be­ing ver­bally abused for try­ing to do what they’re there for — this is un­ac­cept­able.

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately, from what I can tell, the out­comes from Am­bu­lance Vic­to­ria are cer­tainly not sig­nif­i­cant enough in sup­port­ing us.’’

Through­out the meet­ing, Mr Roughton re­it­er­ated that Am­bu­lance Vic­to­ria’s num­ber one pri­or­ity is to pro­vide the best ser­vice pos­si­ble.

“We make the best ser­vice avail­able with what we have,” he said.

“We strive to make sure we give the very best re­sponse to every area in Vic­to­ria and we will con­tinue to do so.

‘‘Where we get it right we want to get it bet­ter and where we get it wrong we want to get it right.

‘‘If you look at our ca­pac­ity and the qual­ity of our paramedics, it you look at our air-am­bu­lance ser­vices, there you know it’s of a high qual­ity.

‘‘We will con­tinue to do the best we pos­si­bly can.’’

When asked by a mem­ber of the pub­lic if Rochester lo­cals have any chance of sav­ing our am­bu­lance ser­vices, Mr Roughton replied: ‘‘I’d love to be able to give you an an­swer but I sim­ply can’t.

‘‘Do I think it could get bet­ter? Ev­ery­where in Vic­to­ria could get bet­ter.’’

Rep­re­sent­ing the Am­bu­lance Union was the as­sis­tant sec­re­tary, Olga Bar­tasek, who is cam­paign­ing for im­proved and fairer am­bu­lance ser­vices in Rochester.

‘‘If there are two paramedics at­tend­ing to a call, they can go and as­sess the sit­u­a­tion and if it is a ba­sic case, they can call an ACO to take over,’’ she said.

‘‘ACO’s are there to as­sist paramedics. They do not have the same ed­u­ca­tion or knowl­edge.

‘‘By only hav­ing one para­medic mak­ing all the de­ci­sions, they can feel un­sup­ported in their role.

‘‘The Am­bu­lance Union is get­ting Rochester and other sin­gle­of­fi­cer branches to share their in­for­ma­tion with us about when they are re­spond­ing to cases on their own so that we can then col­late data.

‘‘In a sin­gle eight-week pe­riod here in Rochester there were 18 call-outs and now the data sug­gests that on av­er­age there are two call­outs per day.

‘‘Am­bu­lance Vic­to­ria con­tinue to talk about the well­be­ing of paramedics be­ing at the fore­front of their agen­das and yet one para­medic in this re­gion has been bro­ken and an­other has been in­jured — how many more will it take?’’

Chris­tine Wright, a for­mer mem­ber of the Am­bu­lance Aux­il­iary and a driv­ing force be­hind the cam­paign, at­tended the meet­ing.

‘‘Over­all, I was dis­ap­pointed with the turnout of peo­ple,’’ she said.

‘‘I wish there had been more sup­port for our paramedics and the is­sues at hand.

‘‘Andy Roughton has a job to do and he did it.The bot­tom line is, we need gov­ern­ment fund­ing and that is above Am­bu­lance Vic­to­ria.

‘‘I greatly ap­pre­ci­ated the fact that Am­bu­lance Vic­to­ria al­lowed our lo­cal para­medic Frank Hof­mann to speak by lift­ing their me­dia pol­icy of con­fi­den­tial­ity. Frank’s words gave us a clear un­der­stand­ing of the stress and strain when work­ing as a sin­gle para­medic, which is what is hap­pen­ing across our re­gional ar­eas un­like in met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas.

‘‘Now, it is vi­tal to keep push­ing for­ward.’’

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