COVID Adds Pressure to ACT Ambulance Service Claims Transport Workers Union | Canberra time


A union has urged people to be “judicious” when calling Triple Zero as COVID-19 is impacting paramedics across the territory. It comes as 1,020 new cases of COVID-19 were announced for the ACT on Thursday. Transport workers union ACT branch secretary Klaus Pinkas said staffing shortages were currently a problem. He said the paramedics were “under the pump”. “Our members are professional and get by, but there is no doubt that resources are stretched,” he said. “Then you also have the greatest workload of people using the ambulance service. We urge people to ask themselves if they need emergency services. “Now obviously if there is a real need, do not hesitate. But we have examples of people tying up ambulance services for things they could have handled on their own, through a GP or showing up at the emergency room.” However, a door -spokesman for the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) said that deep cleaning personal protective clothing from [ambulance] stations and vehicles had ensured “minimal impact on staff, including no shortage of staff within the ACT ambulance service”. The spokesperson said the agency was “committed to ensuring that the health, safety and well-being of all staff is a priority”. “ACT ESA continues to work closely with ACT Health to adhere to the latest health advice,” the spokesperson said. “All frontline and enabling services are rapidly and fully adapting to the evolving COVID-19 situation. “We recognize the commitment and resilience of our members as they constantly adapt and continue to respond to the current situation.” Meanwhile, Mr Pinkas claimed that “resources are stretched”. “More ambulance services are being used at the moment [due to] people calling an ambulance with symptoms of COVID,” he said. “It’s not huge, but it’s there. It’s an increasing workload. “So it’s a double thing, an increase in workload and a reduction in staff.” Staff shortages have hit industries across the country as the Omicron variant has had a severe impact on critical supply chains, including empty shelves in supermarkets. At a National Cabinet meeting on Thursday, leaders were told the country could be looking at up to 10% workforce absenteeism at the height of the Omicron wave. Previously, the federal government said 20-50% of trucking and logistics workers were out of action in isolation or affected by COVID. Meanwhile, two COVID-19 PCR testing centers in Canberra have closed due to supply issues as RAT shortages continue to plague the territory. To combat the risk of exposure to COVID-19, paramedics are currently required to wear heavy-duty personal protective equipment. “They are on the front line and they will show up, they will always help but [there are] a whole bunch of steps they can take to mitigate the circumstances,” Mr. Pinkas said. “But it’s obviously a problem when [paramedics are] treat a suspected or even confirmed positive COVID case, but it’s like all infectious diseases. “So this ambulance will always show up for those cases and take the necessary precautions.” As for the options, the union secretary said there was no immediate solution. “You can’t just snap your fingers and increase staff, we are always in touch with the government about increasing resources for the ambulance service whether there is a pandemic or not, plus the service ambulance has resources, the better,” he said. ALSO READ: “But in the short term, in the very short term, just getting the word out to the general public will make sense when using the ambulance service.” If there’s a real emergency, don’t hesitate to call Triple Zero and get an ambulance there. “But just be a little aware that the service is under the pump when you want to use it.” Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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