Paramedics and volunteer paramedics were used in St John’s Ambulances to attend to critical patients, including a person who had hanged himself, and those suffering from convulsions or needing resuscitation, without the supervision by an experienced paramedic, the United Workers Union warned.
NT Union Secretary Erina Early wrote to St. John Ambulance director Andrew Thomas on June 19 expressing the concerns of a important Number of member whatoh advised the union that St John had been making extensive use of student paramedics or volunteers, referred to as “ambulance help » sjob, what was “have a serious impact orn my members and your employes”.
“understood the the fear in their voices when they confirm that CPR is in progress” and “the despair their voice when they ask for ETA reinforcements”.
She said amboulasince assist staff was originally announced as paramedic students, or volunwith a minimum aadvanced rresponder level (which is the same level as appatient transportation ohffglazer) and most have advanced first aid training, but they have only had two days of driver and manual training stain, and were intended to be used at drive and help with stretchers and kit bags on site.
They were initially funded to meet requests from road crews presented by COVID-19 from January, after the territory’s emergency operations response center asked St John to increase capacity to move COVID-positive patients 19 and select close contacts in Darwin.
Mrs Early said St John Ambulance had rehighly recommended The unionPersonal, and the public on nakedgreat occasions that pa tieNT youtransport agents would be sent to semi-urgent or non-urgent patients, and sent only to urgent patients “by exception” and in these cases they would receive pparamedic and, or return ICP–at the top.
“Members at all professional levels are informing the UWU that is not the case,” she wrote.
“We are aware by our mmembership that there is an increase of ptransport officers attend high acuity jobs, including patients from sstatus eepileptic, phost hangles and resuses (resuscitation) with delay or without rescue due to the unavailability of paramedics and ICP crews.
“The workload of our ppatient transpWhere members is hard that’s enough, that is wellng exacerbateD further away by being registered regularly with an ambulancesifst staff. The union has preview a listwhere ambulance assist (personal) have a regular list patient transport shifts.
“So now not only do you have patient tranotsport to assist high-acuity work(s) by themselves, but they also mentorsupervising oneambulance help (staff) on driving, navigation, personal safety, give instructions on what to bring to each job, treat each patient, write each case sheet and hand over each patient for the entire shift.“
Ms Early said the union had been informed of the apatient and ambula transport agentsince likesister the crew attended a resuscitation on June 18.
Increased workload due to COVID-19 coupled with high attrition rate
Director of St John Andrew Tgay declined to comment, but in a January press release, acting health minister Nicole Manison announced $7.2 million in funding for St John for 45 additional positions to meet a load workload due to COVID-19 and recruitment was ongoing.
They were to be staffed with 24 paramedics to staff new 24-hour ambulance crews in Darwin and Alice Springs; six more paramedics to carry Katherine’s crew from 12 to 24 hours; 10 emergency medical dispatchers; and five clinicians to oversee the emergency communication center.
The new positions responded to union concerns in December about mixed teams of paramedics and patient transport workers, but St John said emergency ambulance teams would continue to consist of two paramedics after new recruitment.
Ms. Manison did not announce the paramedic students in the press release, or trained volunteers at the advanced responder levelmounds would be used to transport COVID-19 patients.
In February last year, a Productivity Commission report showed paramedics were leaving NT at a higher rate than anywhere else, with an attrition rate of 20.2% for fiscal year 2019. -2020.
St John’s chief executive Judith Barker said the territory’s paramedics are leaving their posts to seek out interstate COVID-19-related critical service opportunities.
According to the report, 36 paramedics left NT during the year – compared to just 44 in Queensland. Across Australia, 431 paramedics left their jobs, or 2.7% of the total workforce. He said there had been 179 full-time equivalent paramedics in the NT.
In January, Ms Barker was quoted in the Northwest Territories News as saying the previous 20 months had been difficult.
“These additional staff will provide much-needed support to a service that has worked beyond its capacity,” she reportedly said.
“St John NT has been working with the Department of Health to determine how we can best serve our community and ensure the safety and well-being of our staff.”
Mrs early tell meemthe bers had told him that they had expressed their true concertns on how aMBulance support staff were used, and St John management told them they could treat patients under themsupervision of senior clinician, who may be appatient transport officer holding a certificate III in basic health care.
She said there had been a contracted vehicle for the COVID-19[feminine] transfers of the Howard Sprngs quarantine facility and Royal Darwin Hospital but with COVID-19 decreasing, it was usuallily staffed with a aambulance assist staff member and a fairly new ppatient transportation agent.
“However, if an emergency the job came and they were the closest, or onvery available crew they would be dispatched until a more suitable team was able to attend; it could be anything arintensive carea hanging, a car accident, a choking child, sepisisor chest pain,” she said.
She said that the current situation meant it was less likely that the paramedic and ICP backup was going to be available in due course for ppatienttransport agents, and it became untenable when they were paired with Ambulance assistance staff.
“IIf that’s the response we get from management, the average civilian trained in home first aid can provide the same care while waiting for paramedic response,” she told a member.
While another said:I saved [resuscitations] where New PTO with [ambulance assist staff] first answered. I heard the the fear in their voices as they confirm CPR is in progress. I heard despair in their voices when asking for backup ETAs.
“It’s not fair. Not fair for the PTOs and AA. Not fair to members of the public calling 000 who don’t know the difference in PTO and paramedics. I understand that AJS is frantically trying to recruit, but what occurs when several [resuscitations] enter and all resources are used and there is no one answer?”
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