Single Officer Work Instruction back before IRC

  • Published December 22, 2020
  • Industries

ADHSU recently disputed NSWA’s application of the Single Officer Work instruction in the IRC.

That is, NSWA continues to dangerously respond paramedics to jobs single with little more than ‘planned’ back -up sometimes several towns/suburbs away.

NSWA also rosters trainees on-call – without a completed risk assessment that ensures they won’t be left to fend for themselves during clinically and or physically challenging situation.

The IRC had previously made clear that if a paramedic were to be responded single, they must be backed up on scene within 10 minutes. As we know a lot can go wrong in 10 minutes, so in ADHSU delegate’s view, 10 minutes is too long.

If the IRC’s position is 10 minutes, and ADHSU’s is zero, what would NSWA’s be? Whatever it takes to avoid spending extra money on overtime – safety is secondary to invisible budget lines.

The IRC heard a recent example of what is happening on the road. A rural/regional paramedic was placed third up on a car until that car was sent out of town on a transfer. This left that paramedic signed onto another vehicle single. They were then given job and told back up was either an hour plus or 45-mins away depending on which adjacent town’s car could be responded. The paramedic stated they would stage at station until back-up arrived. The paramedic was removed from the job and later received a call from a manager disputing their decision to not respond.

The above example should send chills down our spines. The few controls to paramedic risk that were in place were ignored by the employer, except the last line of defence, that is the paramedic assessed the risk as too great and said they would stage at station. The fact that they were given a talking to for protecting themselves means that even that last defence can fail in the near future.

In happy news the Commission put forward that the Paramedic was well entitled to refuse given the lack of timely back-up outside of the 10 minutes – the IRC will back members in.

The matter was unresolved between the parties and further meetings are to be held in the new year, despite the risks to Paramedics over the upcoming period. Members should ensure that their safety isn’t compromised by the organisation. Stand up for own and other’s safety no matter what.

When NSW Ambulance breaches the work instruction members should report the matter to their local management team and local ADHSU delegate for immediate rectification. As per the IRC we will be collating some obvious examples to provide to the Service for urgent review. 

Gerard Hayes