All Victorian paramedics will undertake new ‘virtual reality’ training to better protect themselves from violence when responding to real-life volatile medical emergencies.
Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy today launched Ambulance Victoria’s new Occupational Violence Prevention Education Program – which is the first of its kind for emergency services.
The program uses the latest immersive technology in which paramedics can learn behavioural skills and tactics when confronted with a violent patient or bystander.
Once immersed in the 360-degree virtual reality experience, paramedics are given two real-life scenarios treating patients at scenes where they are exposed to occupational violence.
The training program is being delivered by a team of experts in hostage and crisis negotiation, critical incident management, special operations and personal protection.
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 296 incidents have already been reported in the first half of 2016/17.
A major focus of the Andrews Labor Government’s Ambulance Action Plan was to improve paramedic safety and wellbeing. That’s why we provided $900,000 to deliver this occupation violence training to all paramedics.
We also recently announced $500,000 from our Health Service Violence Prevention Fund so paramedics can trial high tech body worn cameras on their uniforms in high risk locations.
This is in addition to our $500 million plan to improve response times – the biggest ever investment in ambulance services – which will employ 450 more paramedics, buy new vehicles and build new ambulance stations across the state.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy
“Our paramedics are not punching bags. However despite our zero tolerance approach, threats, abuse and violence against our hardworking paramedics sadly continues to occur.”
“We’re putting the safety of paramedics first with trailblazing virtual reality training that gives them the skills they need to calmly and effectively mitigate violence on the job.”
“Paramedics deserve to feel safe and respected at work. They do an amazing job saving lives and caring for us at our most vulnerable.”