23 March 2020
Paramedics on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic are calling on the NSW Government to provide resources and equipment needed to keep themselves and the community safe.
APA (NSW) believes that Paramedics may be put at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to inadequate dispatch procedures. APA (NSW) knows that Paramedics and Control Centre staff are working as hard as they can to keepeveryone safe, however, there is a lack of clarity from NSW Health regarding how to manage resources.
NSW Ambulance (NSWA) have assured APA (NSW) that all relevant information about potential COVID-19 cases is being provided to Paramedics. However, there have unfortunately been some reports that Paramedics are not receiving consistent or timely advice regarding potential cases.
APA (NSW) President and operational Paramedic Chris Kastelan says “we support Paramedics standing off at scene until accurate information can be obtained. We are asking NSWA to establish more robust processes. Paramedics are at the frontline of our Health system and we simply cannot risk having them contract this virus.”
APA (NSW) has had reports of Paramedics attending multiple cases a day where they don’t have enough information to make a decision about whether to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). There is limited availability of PPE onstations meaning that Paramedics have to make a choice about which cases carry the highest risk. We are deeply concerned that this may turn Paramedics into ‘super spreaders’ of the virus
Paramedics are concerned regarding the extreme demands on the service and resulting delays that will occur in response times. APA (NSW) is calling on NSWA to place mobile Make Ready Teams at all major metropolitan and regional emergency departments to ensure Paramedic vehicles can be decontaminated quickly and effectively, whilst the Paramedic crew ensure clinical care of their patients.
Make Ready Teams are currently only available in some metropolitan stations, these are teams of NSW Health staff who are trained to decontaminate vehicles among other tasks
The availability of mobile Make Ready Teams will ensure that Paramedics can be out on the road saving lives and instead of decontaminating Ambulances.
APA (NSW) is also calling upon NSWA to ensure that daily Paramedic crewing numbers are maintained and that there is also the availability of extra Paramedics to manage the increased workload through this pandemic.
APA (NSW) President Chris Kastelan said: “APA (NSW) is calling on NSW Health to provide workers with 20 days special leave. We are disappointed and shocked that the Government has thus far failed to unconditionally offer paid special leave to all casual employees. In doing so, they have failed to adequately support their workforce, and are risking the health and safety of Paramedics, health staff and the public.”
Paramedics are working hard to help the community. The NSW Government must step up and ensure they are provided with the very best support during these challenging times.