Responding to the rising violence against paramedics in the state, the Queensland’s government has announced AU$1.35 million of advertisement-spending to raise awareness among the public to stop the attacks on paramedics. “We need to get the message out that serious assaults on paramedics will not be tolerated, and are subject to significant legal penalties,” Health Minister Cameron Dick said.
“Everyone knows a nurse, a doctor, a paramedic. They’re our mothers, our brothers, our friends. This campaign will tell their stories,” the minister said. This will be part of the recommendations by a task force, which explored the solutions to curb violence against ambulance officers. Between June 2014 and June 2015, 226 physical and verbal attacks were reported against paramedics. In January, the United Voice Union and the Ambulance Service jointly condemned the rising violence against paramedics.
Some of the recent attacks on paramedics included the assault on a 41-year-old female. She was admitted to hospital after sustaining injuries from a violent patient at Toowong in Brisbane. Two male paramedics, in their mid 40s, were badly punched in Landsborough. In another incident, three para-medical workers were brutally assaulted in a single day, reports 9 News.
The government will also provide extra training to paramedics to defend themselves. The training will help them bring under control potentially violent patients. So far, the paramedics have refrained from offers to be armed with pepper spray. They say their job is to help people not harm them. The paramedics also point to the risk of assault faced by doctors, nurses and general health workers. According to the Queensland government, the safety training for all Queensland Ambulance Service paramedics (QAS) will be fast-tracked.
Explaining the significance of the training program, Queensland Ambulance Deputy Commissioner Chris Broomfield said the safety program would focus on situational awareness and de-escalation of violent events, reports ABC News. “Any amount of training is good to improve them in how they might communicate with patients to make sure we identify areas of risk,” he said. Broomfield blamed excessive drinking and use of drugs as the reasons behind the increasing attacks on paramedics.