Victorian paramedics will wear high tech body cameras in a Victorian first trial to protect them from rising rates of violence while responding to life threatening emergencies.
Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy today announced Ambulance Victoria would receive $500,000 from the Andrews Labor Government’s Health Service Violence Prevention Fund to support the trial.
The fund delivers on the Labor Government’s election promise to tackle rates of violence at hospitals and mental health services by improving facilities and making them safer for staff, patients and visitors.
Ambulance Victoria will trial body worn cameras on paramedic uniforms and evaluate their effectiveness in protecting paramedics and reducing violence.
The cameras will be deployed to high risk locations in the Metro-West region, including Melbourne CBD.
In 2015/16, paramedics attended more than 5000 emergency cases where they were exposed to violence or aggression – an average of 13 cases every day.
Of these, 581 cases were formally reported as occupational violence incidents, and another 161 incidents have already been reported for the first quarter of 2016/17.
These figures continue to rise every year.
Similar to cameras worn by police, the cutting edge equipment will record incidents only where paramedics are in danger. It will not record all emergency cases.
Vision from the camera could be used by police for investigations and prosecutions of assault against paramedics. All patient health care details will be de-identified, protecting patient privacy.
Paramedics are particularly at risk of occupational violence because they are at the frontline of stressful and unpredictable medical emergencies.
In addition to today’s announcement, the Labor Government is providing $2.7 million for initiatives to support paramedic health and wellbeing.
This includes more than 52,000 hours of additional training, including training to prevent occupational violence.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy
“Threats, abuse and assaults against our dedicated paramedics is unacceptable. Sadly, more and more paramedics are confronted by violence while they are doing their job saving lives.”
“Paramedics care for us at our most vulnerable. They deserve respect and deserve to feel safe at work – that’s why we’re trialling high tech body cameras to put their safety first.”
“The cameras will be an effective deterrent in high risk, volatile emergency cases, and provide the evidence police need to investigate crimes against our hard-working paramedics.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020