COVID-19 Healthcare News

Health Services Union slams plan to put firefighters in paramedic workforce


The Health Services Union has slammed a plan to put firefighters in ambulances, saying it shows years of paramedic short-staffing.

The Daily Telegraph has today revealed the plan for firefighters to drive ambulances or be ready to attend life-threatening heart attacks in case COVID-19 cases overwhelm the paramedic workforce.

HSU NSW Secretary, Gerard Hayes, said the public expected a paramedic to arrive when they called an ambulance.

“Asking firefighters to drive an ambulance will not address the clinical treatment of a patient who requires two qualified paramedics,” Mr Hayes said. “Driving a vehicle and treating a heart attack are two very different things.

Modern paramedics are trained to keep a patient alive, and administer sophisticated early medical care. The public knows this. It is what they rightly expect.”

“This plan demonstrates chronic under funding, under resourcing and under staffing. We have an attraction and retention crisis among paramedics who are the hardest working but worst paid in the country. You wouldn’t ask a police officer to fight a fire or a paramedic to quell a riot. We train people to do difficult jobs that require serious skills. Our emergency responders are not interchangeable.”

According to statistics, there has been a history of staffing issues across different health sectors in parts of Australia, the main draw being healthcare workers remaining severely underpaid despite being on the frontlines of a global health crisis. Most healthcare workers report feelings of being stretched too thin over health risks, overworking due to a lack of more help in the system, and bouts of mental ill-health.

“The Treasurer is fond of saying he won’t put the Budget ahead of the economy. It’s time to prove that by granting paramedics a pay rise that reflects their skills and training and employing at least an extra 1500 of them,” says Hayes.


Original story found on the Health Services Union National website. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.

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Nina Alvarez is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel. Her interests include writing, particularly about the healthcare sector and the many ways it can improve to further benefit people from all walks of life.


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