AMBO STAFF SEND AN SOS
Paramedic says having to work alone has made the job much more stressful
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.’’