Paramedics will get high tech body cameras as part of a new trial to keep them safe from the rising rates of violence they are experiencing on the job.
From next week, paramedics at St Vincent’s and Epworth hospitals, and from Point Cook Branch and Sunbury branch, will wear body cameras attached to their uniforms when responding to volatile medical emergencies.
The six month trial will be progressively rolled out in June and July to 27 branches, involving up to 550 paramedics and around 150 cameras.
Paramedics are particularly at risk of occupational violence because they are at the frontline of stressful and unpredictable medical emergencies.
Last financial year, paramedics attended more than 5,000 emergencies where they were exposed to violence or aggression – an average of 13 cases every day – and these figures continue to rise every year.
The cameras are similar to those trialled by police, and will record incidents only where paramedics are in danger. It will not record all emergency cases.
Paramedics who opt to wear the cameras will start recording if they feel at risk or are threatened, warning people they are being filmed. Vision can then be used as evidence for police investigations and prosecutions.
The Andrews Labor Government has delivered $500,000 from the Health Service Violence Prevention Fund to trial the cameras as a deterrent in high risk situations.
Earlier this month the Labor Government doubled its investment in the Fund to $40 million – making Victoria’s hospitals and mental health services safer.
The trial builds on the Labor Government’s new community awareness campaign – which features a paramedic being assaulted on the street – that was launched last week, and makes it clear that violence against healthcare workers is never OK.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“We’re sending a strong message – violence and aggression towards paramedics is never OK.”
“This trial is just one of the ways we are working to keep our dedicated paramedics safe while they are out on the job, saving lives.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy
“Hardworking paramedics care for us at our most vulnerable and save lives – they deserve to feel safe and respected at work.”
“Body cameras are another way we’re putting the safety of paramedics first. They will be a deterrent in high risk situations where paramedics are confronted by threats or abuse.”