Paramedics call for better COVID protections as 3 workers test positive

Australian Paramedics Association (NSW)

As three Paramedics in South West Sydney returned positive COVID-19 test results, the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) says poor planning and preparedness at NSW Ambulance continues to expose workers to unnecessary risk.

“These cases highlight the significant risks Paramedics and other frontline workers take on every day to serve our communities,” said Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) President Chris Kastelan.

“We accept some level of risk every time we pull on our uniform. But 18 months into a pandemic, it’s a disgrace that our employer has not put plans in place to minimise this risk as much as possible.

“Instead, we’ve seen serious failures in preparedness at NSW Health and NSW Ambulance.”

The union says Paramedics have been raising concerns about their workplace safety since the start of the pandemic, but progress has been slow and too often reactive.

“We had a chance to get things right in NSW—last year, we watched as thousands of Victorian health workers had the misfortune of contracting COVID in their workplace.

“But NSW has failed to get ahead of the curve, and it’s left Paramedics and communities unnecessarily exposed to greater risk.”

APA (NSW) has three immediate demands for the NSW Government: 1) put ambulance cleaning teams at major hospitals, 2) ensure every Paramedic has the highest standard of protective equipment for every job, and 3) improve planning to avoid staff travelling in and out of red zones.

“We urgently need designated cleaning teams at major hospitals, to ensure ambulances are thoroughly disinfected between patients,” said Mr Kastelan.

“We need a guarantee that every worker will be fit tested to ensure effective PPE, and have access to a properly fitted mask for every job.

“And we need to reduce exposure risk by minimising movement round the state. Right now, regional staff are being sent to Greater Sydney to attend training courses, which defies all logic.

“We need regional training for regional staff, and extra crews placed in communities around the red zone to prevent Paramedics travelling in and out of known hotspots.

The union urges NSW Health and Ambulance to comply immediately to protect all NSW residents.

“When a Paramedic is exposed to workplace risk, they bring that risk back to home to their community—as well as every patient they attend that day, and every hospital they visit.

“When we fail to properly protect our Paramedics, we are also placing many of our most sick and vulnerable community members at unnecessary risk.”

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