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Paramedics and patients put at risk by NSW Health inaction

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As further Paramedics test positive for COVID-19, the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) is demanding urgent measures to keep workers and communities safe, including better PPE and safety practices, greater hospital capacity and rapid antigen testing.

“The public would be horrified if they could see what our day-to-day work was like in the middle of the outbreak.

“Every Paramedic I know is at breaking point. We are scared for our safety, our families’ safety, and the safety of the community” said APA (NSW) Assistant Secretary Alan O’Riordan.

The union says the NSW Government has failed to implement key safety measures to ensure Paramedics have appropriate PPE, minimise workplace exposures, and avoid staff movement between Sydney and regional NSW.

“Paramedics are waiting upwards of 2 to 3 hours to offload COVID-positive patients at hospitals,” said Mr O’Riordan.

“We’ve had reports of ambulances being sent to three successive hospitals within two hours, just trying to locate an available bed for their patient.

“This system is not under pressure, it’s broken.”

APA (NSW) has written to the Health Minister demanding that the NSW Government immediately undertake the following actions to protect our Paramedics:

  1. Implement specialist cleaning teams to clean and restock ambulances at all major hospitals
  2. Fit test every on-road Paramedic. Fit testing is recommended by the Clinical Excellence Commission to ensure masks used for PPE function correctly and create a proper facial seal. Only around 10% of regional medics have been fit tested.
  3. Rapid antigen testing for all Paramedics. In order for Paramedics, our families and our communities to be as safe as possible, rapid antigen testing must be introduced as a priority.

“NSW Health’s inaction on key safety issues is a disaster already happening.

“Each day that goes by more Paramedics are exposed to COVID-19 while NSW Health sit on their hands,” said Mr. O’Riordan.

Story Source: Materials provided by the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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