Should paramedics be allowed to refuse help to patients in need?

Should Ambulance Service officers be able to refuse help to people in need? Source: WikiCommons

Paramedics in New South Wales will now have the option of refusing help to certain patients, even if they are dying. While paramedics were once praised for the help they give people in need, many are calling for a drastic restructure so they’re protected while doing their jobs.

New reports suggest that in New South Wales, three ambulance officers are attacked each week. As such, paramedics can now flat out refuse to help certain patients.

An array of new protection laws mean that paramedics will be able to refuse calls to certain locations that are known to be a safety risk for ambulance officers. The new laws come as Health Minister Brad Hazzard vowed to keep paramedics safe while they’re doing their job. The laws have the backing of the New South Wales State Government.

On Friday, a roundtable on physical violence against these workers saw Hazzard support paramedics who didn’t want to put themselves in a dangerous situation. “Paramedics are there to help the community, they are there to keep us safe and they can’t keep us safe if they’re being injured, assaulted and spat on,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports him saying.

“So the short message to the community is that this is a partnership between the paramedics and you, and we need the paramedics safe so they can look after us.”

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New South Wales Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan added that paramedics would need to make a call for each individual scenario. “If that means the paramedic needs to stand off until the situation has clarified, or the police are in attendance, then we will back our paramedics to do that,” Yahoo News reports him saying.

A recent article by the Herald Sun suggested that attacks on ambulance officers have more than doubled in the past two years. They suggest that drugs and alcohol are to blame, with many of those affected harming the very people that are there to help them. Other reports suggest that some people have even threatened staff with syringes and other extreme forces of violence.

In the past, there have been calls for security officers to assist paramedics in certain situations, while others are calling on the introduction of even more paramedics to assist in these situations. Some paramedics are now forced to wear video cameras as part of their uniforms now, just so they have evidence if the worst does happen while they’re on a call.

Where do you sit on the debate? Are you concerned that you may not be given the proper care you need because you’re simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Does the government need to do more to protect paramedics, or should their focus be on helping people who abuse drugs and alcohol?

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