Throughout this blog there has been a common theme, the disregard and disdain with which Ambulance Victoria treats its staff.
With the enterprise bargaining period now terminated paramedics can no longer speak out, for fear of being hunted and subject to disciplinary action.
Well as a wife I am not subject to your polices and procedures of fear, so I will be speaking out in the vague hope that someone will listen.
With the recent acknowledgement by the coroner that paramedics kill themselves at least four times greater than the general public, and that more paramedics may have problems with psychological injuries and addiction AV has sought to introduce a drug policy.
Does this policy seek to address the welfare of the paramedics serving in the organisation, nope. Its all about image, so that the management can say how tough they are on drugs.
While I will have more to say in coming weeks, let me give you an example of thee care provided around the issue of drugs.
What happens when a paramedic is accused of drug abuse is they are met at their branch by their Group Manager and stood down. This means they are isolated from branch their access cards are removed and even their email access is revoked.
A urine test is then demanded and if the paramedic has any concerns they are simply bullied and threatened. They are not told how they came to be suspect, they are refused any information as to any accusations that may have been made against them, they are simply made to pee in a cup and told to go home and not come back until they are contacted.
They effectively have no rights, certainly less than most accused in the judicial system who are at least allowed to know the nature of the accusations against them. Otherwise how are they supposed to defend themselves. Lawyers call this natural justice, apparently paramedics are not entitled to this.
Recently a paramedic was stood down, a drug test demanded. The paramedic complied simply as they believed it was the fastest way of sorting this out.
When the drug test came back clear, the paramedic told the Group Manager exactly what they thought of the procedure as it stood.
The Group Manager was so incensed at being told this that AV’s peer support was involved to soothe their hurt feelings.
Strangely, peer support (the AV counselling/mental health service) had not been been involved to this point. They had not been involved while a paramedic was accused, they had not been involved while a paramedic was systematically isolated by the management. They were not called when this paramedic was isolated at home not knowing whether their long career was over, or the police may be knocking on the door.
They were only involved to assuage a manager’s hurty feelings.
I guess that tells you where AV’s priority lies.
I think it is a very good thing that this paramedic was clearly not someone at the edge resorting to drugs to ease the pain or the outcome may have been very different. Not that that is apparently an issue as far as AV is concerned.