Some of you may remember “My Friend Helen”
“I have a friend Helen. She was a lovely person, she was a great paramedic, awesome mother and staunch unionist. Over the years I have learnt a lot from Helen, not only about being a better Paramedic, but also a better human being. She had a great interest in others, and their rights and stood up for them via her work with the union and community groups.”
Helen took her own life in 2013. One night she entered an ambulance station, opened the drug safe and took a fatal overdose of fentanyl.
The wheels of justice in Victoria turn slowly, and the coroner has finally got around to Helen. Unfortunately, according to Helen’s union the coroner doesn’t see any point to an inquest into Helen’s death.
The Coroner is apparently satisfied that Helen’s employer Ambulance Victoria has changed its drug procedures so that this situation can not occur again.
I am at a loss to understand this opinion. Not only can it happen again, but it already has. Most recently late last year.
I have spoken to many currently serving paramedics, and they all tell me the same thing. That while Ambulance Victoria has gone to great lengths placing surveillance on the drug safes at stations I cannot really myself see how this will deter someone who intends to be dead by the time any wrongdoing is discovered.
Apart from that, in a practical sense, nothing has changed.
The coroner also apparently feels that Helen’s problems were her own, and nothing to do with her employer.
This is despite the fact that many of Helen’s collegues have criticised how Ambulance Victoria treats its staff. This is also despite the fact that Helen’s partner Cath (above left) has also spoken quite publicly about poor treatment and lack of support by Ambulance Victoria in numerous publications such as the Daily Mail or news.com as well as on television.
The coroners own research found that paramedics take their own lives at least four times more often than other occupations.
Helen’s Union the Ambulance Employees Association – Victoria believes this number represents an undereporting of the true figures.
So how the Victorian Coroner can come to this conclusion is quite remarkable I believe. I simply don’t understand what this decision is based on when all the above information can be illicited by a simple google search.
It would seem that Coroners investigations in Victoria aren’t so much Elliot Ness as much as Elliot Goblet