Today in Parliament I asked the Minister for Health the following question:
Minister, the paramedic profession has come to me concerned with the over-reliance on volunteers and the lack of adequate resources within Ambulance Tasmania.
Of the state’s 51 ambulance stations, 24 rely at least partially on the good will of volunteers, while 13 are “volunteer only” with no support from salaried paramedics. I understand that too often ambulance call-outs are crewed by a single officer, which is manifestly unsafe and unfair to our salaried and volunteer officers.
Minister, to address these deficiencies, the profession is calling for an additional 229 fulltime employees, including 188 frontline paramedics. I am advised this would provide a greater footprint of high-level clinical care across the state while providing the volunteers with the additional experience and training opportunities they need.
Minister, will you listen to your own paramedics and commit to recruiting the staff required to provide adequate clinical care to Tasmanians while ensuring safer working conditions, including mandating two-person crews for all ambulance call-outs?
Unfortunately, Mr Rockliff would only commit to employing 48 new paramedics over the next two years, and then to a review of Ambulance Tasmania. He completely ignored my call to mandate two-person crews for all call-outs.
Mr Rockliff’s response falls well short of providing the ambulance service Tasmanians need and deserve. We all know the Ambulance Tasmania is under pressure, and matters are not helped by ambulances and their crews languishing while ramping at our over-loaded hospitals.
Single-person crews are simply not always safe. Our ambulances regularly have to attend potentially dangerous situations, often where people are violent and affected by drugs or alcohol. Surely our first-responders deserve our protection?
The government must commit now to two-person ambulance crews.