SCENARIO: Ambulance Services Minister Jill Hennessy watches as paramedics try the virtual reality training. Picture: @JillHennessyMP on Twitter
Victorian paramedics have welcomed new immersive technology to better prepare and protect themselves from violence on the job.
Ambulance Employees Union secretary Steve McGhie said the new virtual reality training should help but was just one part of a move towards a safer workplace.
Specific ‘hot spot’ addresses for four Ballarat addresses in Lake Wendouree, Redan, Wendouree and Delacombe were identified by Ambulance Victoria last year as potential violent situations for paramedics. A further eight addresses were deemed a safety risk.
Mr McGhie said this was a more practical move to help prepare paramedics for any potentially violent situation.
“We’re really supportive of a while range of things to help prevent paramedics from being assaulted,” Mr McGhie said. “This gives them a bit of virtual reality and they can put themselves in a scenario. It can improve observation and what they might do. If that means avoiding assault and violence, that’s a good thing.”
Victorian Ambulance Services Minister Jill Hennessy launched the new occupational violence prevention education program for paramedics on Monday.
The program uses 360-degree virtual reality experience so paramedics are exposed to volatile scenarios while treating patients on scene.
Training is delivered by a team of experts in hostage and crisis negotiation, critical incident management, special operations and personal protection.
The program is designed to help paramedics learn behavioural skills and tactics for when confronted by a violent patient or bystander.
Ms Hennessy said paramedics do an amazing job saving lives and caring for the state’s most vulnerable residents and deserved to have the tools they needed for a safer workplace.
“Our paramedics are not punching bags. However despite our zero tolerance approach, threats, abuse and violence against our hardworking paramedics sadly continues to occur,” Ms Hennessy said.
“We’re putting the safety of paramedics first with trailblazing virtual reality training that gives them the skills they need to calmly and effectively mitigate violence on the job.”
Victorian paramedics were exposed to violence or aggression in 5000 emergency cases in 2015/16, which is an average 13 cases daily. A further 296 incidents have already been reported in the first half of 2016/17.
The training follows a $500,000 state government-funded trial for paramedics to wear high-tech body cameras on their uniforms in high risk locations.