Dozens of extra paramedics have been fast-tracked to boost the State’s frontline health defence as the state prepares for the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said an additional 97 new recruits are ready to join their frontline colleagues as the State Government rolls out its strong response to the challenges posed by the virus.
“Just like our firefighters and volunteers were the heroes during the bushfires, our nurses, midwives, doctors and paramedics will be the heroes who are protecting us on the frontline against the coronavirus pandemic,” Minister Wade said.
“These new recruits are the next generation of heroes.
“The health of all South Australians is our highest priority. To protect your health, we are committed to slowing the spread of the virus while significantly boosting capacity within our health system.
“These new recruits demonstrate to South Australians that their Government has a strong plan to prepare for all scenarios in the months ahead.”
The boost in paramedics adds to the more than 1,000 extra nurses who have put their hand up to join the response and the reactivation of 278 beds at former health sites at Wakefield in the CBD, College Grove and the Repat.
Minister Wade said that SA Ambulance Service is fast-tracking an intake of 36 paramedic interns and 20 patient transport officers, who will complement a recent intake of 23 graduates.
Another 18 interns have recently begun their on the road supervision – giving the frontline a boost of 97 available staff.
11 additional Triple Zero (000) call takers were also brought on board just weeks ago.
“The State Liberal Government is boosting capacity right across our health system in preparation for the coronavirus peak,” he said.
“We have brought forward the expansion of the Flinders Medical Centre Emergency Department which will provide an additional 30 treatment spaces over the next few months.
“I welcome the new paramedics and, on behalf of all South Australians, express my appreciation for their commitment to protecting the community both now and into the future.”
The 36 additional recruits will receive eight weeks initial training before hitting the roads across regional and metropolitan South Australia in June.
SA Ambulance Service, Chief Executive Officer, David Place, said SAAS had today released its Pandemic Plan to ensure it remains able to respond to South Australian Triple Zero (000) calls, as demand increases.
“Australia is forecast to hit a peak in coronavirus infections during our winter, and whilst SA is working hard to flatten the curve, more paramedics on our roads sooner is a key component of the government’s response,” said Mr Place.
The measures also include streaming of non-urgent medical calls to alternative services, extra dedicated vehicles for transfer of COVID-19 patients between facilities, and use of private providers and other agencies, if required.
“These are extraordinary times and we have a really strong plan to get ahead of this, but we need to continue to respond to day to day medical emergencies.
The fast-tracking of graduate paramedic intern’s forms part of a sweeping range of emergency measures that have been planned by SAAS.
“Pandemic arrangements are in place and will be activated as required to allow us to effectively respond to South Australians in need,” said Mr Place.