Am­bos warn staff are at risk if so­cial dis­tanc­ing rules aren’t fol­lowed

Sunday Territorian - - FRONT PAGE - NATASHA EMECK

PARAMEDICS on the front­lines of Dar­win’s coro­n­avirus cri­sis fear their lives are at risk if St John Am­bu­lance doesn’t stop the “fluid de­ploy­ment” of work­ers.

PARAMEDICS on the front­lines of Dar­win’s coro­n­avirus cri­sis warn St John Am­bu­lance could be putting the health of first re­spon­ders at se­ri­ous risk if they don’t stop the “fluid de­ploy­ment” of work­ers dur­ing the pan­demic.

United Voice NT sec­re­tary Erina Early said the fluid de­ploy­ment rule made so­cial dis­tanc­ing very hard be­cause it meant mul­ti­ple am­bu­lance crews were of­ten packed into the same sta­tion in be­tween call outs.

A con­cerned para­medic, who asked not to be named, said keep­ing paramedics in such close quar­ters was a “dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen” amid the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

“We’re set­ting our­selves up, so if some­one does be­come in­fected there is po­ten­tial it will con­tam­i­nate sev­eral crews at once,” he said.

“At the Palmer­ston sta­tion last week there were sev­eral crews rest­ing there at the same time and nine paramedics who were shar­ing re­clin­ers, kitchens and bath­room fa­cil­i­ties dur­ing a time when we should be try­ing to min­imise that.

“You’ve just got to look at the sit­u­a­tion in Tasmania right now to un­der­stand the risk.

“It only took a pos­i­tive health staff worker to com­pletely close down two hos­pi­tal ED de­part­ments.”

St John Am­bu­lance NT di­rec­tor of am­bu­lance ser­vices An­drew Thomas said the

Palmer­ston sta­tion was fit­ted out to ac­com­mo­date six staff.

“At 59 sqm, this space is well above the rec­om­mended min­i­mum space of 4 sqm of space per per­son,” he said.

“In an­tic­i­pa­tion of in­creased work­loads, we have re­cently in­creased crew rooms at the Ca­sua­r­ina sta­tion by nearly 100 per cent to en­sure that our crews have ad­e­quate space and are able to take much­needed breaks while on shift.”

He said fluid de­ploy­ments had al­ready been in place for a year and it made sense to use it as an oper­a­tional strat­egy.

“Fluid de­ploy­ment en­ables us to move crews be­tween sta­tions to en­sure that we main­tain op­ti­mal cov­er­age in our re­sponse across the Dar­win re­gion,” he said.

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