All Care, No Responsibility

Hi, back again with another story of how Ambulance Victoria managers treat their staff.

These days paramedics are required to attend university and attain a degree (with an associated HECS debt of between $30-40K), before they even apply to the organisation for a job.

If they are then successful they are offered a 12 month internship to find their feet in the profession before they become qualified paramedics. During this time they have many responsibilities to the organisation, and are largely at the whim of managers and clinical instructors. Some of whom are very, very good, some of whom not so. But you would hope there are safeguards in the system should problems arise.

But are there? Remember in my last post the story of the “drug policy”, which as yet is only in draft stage, but that hasn’t stopped some managers using it as a tool to, “have a go”.

Not very long ago a newly qualified paramedic was met at their station by the group manager and told they were under suspicion of drug abuse and stood down pending a drug test.

This paramedic did seek advice and was told they were not obliged as the policy was not yet in force, but the manager simply persisted and demanded the test threatening the paramedic that a refusal would be treated as a positive test and may result in termination. Given that the paramedic consented as you would expect someone to do when confronted with this deliberately intimidating behaviour when they are young and only just out of university.

Well the test came back negative as everyone, except this manager, was sure it would and some questions were asked of how this paramedic came under suspicion. Apparently the organisation keeps a record of all the drugs given by every paramedic, and on review it was felt that this paramedics pattern of administration of the drug fentanyl which was frequent small doses was regarded as suspect. To everyone else I speak to it seems quite reasonable to give smaller doses when you start out until you gain confidence with a drug. This will of course entail giving more doses to get the desired effect.

So AV in their wisdom have taken a keen and enthusiastic young paramedic and tried to break them for what?

They can’t have been that worried surely? As the paramedic was not yet qualified when these cases they were querying occurred the paramedic was acting under the supervision of the Paramedic Educator and the Team Manager at the station, and maybe even a Clinical Instructor. Surely they would have been asked too, as they were supposed to be offering supervision and guidance.

The silence from them however was deafening.


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2 Responses to All Care, No Responsibility

  1. dralspe says:

    What do you propose should happen? Should managers of this organisation undergo managerment education that is not created/delivered (clouded) by the same organisation? Alternatively maybe all levels of employees, including managers, should be empowered and encouraged to speak up to there superiors and these superiors encouraged to actively listen?

    What are your thoughts?

  2. Disposable Asset says:

    Interesting question. What I would like to see is a different culture where people are allowed to speak out without fear.
    I was at a session recently where one of the speakers was of the opinion that we need to get rid of the word accountability from the values statement. They were of the opinion that it has over the years been bastardised into a big stick. As a result there is a real culture in management of doing nothing for fear of being held “accountable”, never stick your head up lest you be “accountable”
    They suggested it be changed to take responsibility, as it seemed that no one wants to take responsibility lest they be held accountable.
    Tony talks of being more humanist in the management approach, too many in the middle are ignoring the message

    I guess the short answer to your question for me is both

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