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Media Releases | St John Ambulance
MEDIA RELEASE: Helping paramedics stay safe
  20 Apr 2021

How you respond in an emergency can mean the difference between life and death. You need to assess the situation, think fast and prioritise your actions to preserve the life of someone sick or injured.

Now imagine if at the same time your own personal safety is in danger.

Sadly this is a situation too many paramedics and emergency services personnel face as a daily occurrence.

In a bid to better equip their paramedics to deal with sometimes violent and aggressive situations, St John NT believes all operational staff should be trained in personal safety.

As Director of Ambulance Services Andrew Thomas explained, “we see people at their most vulnerable in situations which can escalate out of control putting our staff in danger.

“While we appeal to the public to let our crews get on with their job, we can’t control what people might do. We can however, be proactive in preparing our paramedics to know how to deal with a situation, to protect themselves and avoid aggressive and violent behaviour.”

St John NT highly values personal safety training and this week continues its specialised training program with Guardian Personal Safety trainers to equip NT paramedics with the skills to deal with challenging and sometimes dangerous situations.

The training includes practical and theory sessions and scenario-based exercises. Scene assessment, de-escalation strategies and physical techniques to control aggression, such as disengagement and retreat, will all be covered as part of the training sessions.

“The value of this training is immense,” Andrew Thomas said. “There are paramedics who did the training five or ten years ago, and still remember the techniques. It means that when people go out on shift, they have the confidence that they will know what to do in a potentially violent situation.”

Last year St John NT paramedics experienced 71 incidents of reported verbal or physical violence. So far this year, the number of reported incidents is at 10.

Earlier this week a woman was prosecuted and faces a jail sentencing in Alice Springs for assaulting an on-duty ambulance officer.

St John NT welcomed the amendments to the Criminal Code to impose higher penalties for assaulting paramedics, fire and emergency service workers. The case demonstrates that the legislation is now supporting the welfare of paramedics and emergency services staff. 

“Sadly, we must continue to ask the community to respects paramedics’ rights in doing their job and demand that they are given space to do what they are employed to do – which is saving lives,” he said.

The Guardian Personal Safety scenario-based exercises were held at the Parap Ambulance Centre on Friday 16 April: 

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