CHALLENGE: Retired paramedic Ron Alexander says there are a number of things contributing to tough call-outs for emergency services personnel.
CHALLENGE: Retired paramedic Ron Alexander says there are a number of things contributing to tough call-outs for emergency services personnel. Warren Lynam

Drugs, disrespect put emergency services in danger

A COCKTAIL of drugs and alcohol taken in dangerous combinations is putting paramedics, police and other first responders in precarious situations on the job.

That's the view of recently retired former paramedic Ron Alexander.

The ex-officer in charge of Maroochydore Ambulance Station spent 52 years in the Queensland Ambulance Service.

He said when he started out in the 1960s negotiation skills and talking with people enabled ambulance officers to do their jobs without incident for the bulk of the time.

"You don't know how people are going to react (now)," Mr Alexander said.

"Sometimes you can get caught out easily."

In the past fortnight there was a spate of attacks on emergency service personnel on the Coast, including two attacks on police officers and one on a female paramedic.

 

Farewell for paramedic Ron Alexander at the Nambour Station in February, 2016, at his retirement. Ron with his wife Christine.
Farewell for paramedic Ron Alexander at the Nambour Station in February, 2016, at his retirement. Ron with his wife Christine. Warren Lynam

Mr Alexander said communications teams did their best to prepare paramedics for each case, but there was always an element of stepping into the unknown.

The former paramedic said if a patient was known as a potential risk then police were called to provide assistance for ambulance officers.

Mr Alexander said people were "much more reactive" on amphetamines than other drugs, but alcohol also increased the unpredictability of patients.

He said a lack of respect for police, paramedics, doctors and nurses was also making for more challenging call-outs.

"Like everyone we expect to go to work and we expect to come home at the end of the shift," he said.

"It's quite frightening in the back of an ambulance vehicle where your space is limited if people do decide to become reactive. It is quite a frightening place to be in."

He was full of praise for the efforts of modern paramedics in a "changing world" and said the level of care provided was very high.

Sunshine Coast Police District Crime Prevention Unit officer in charge Senior Sergeant Brad Grant said the recent attacks on emergency service workers was "concerning".

He said for police officers on vehicle interceptions it wasn't always easy to see an attack coming.

It's always difficult... there's a lot going on during an interception," Snr Sgt Grant said.

He said attacks were usually uncommon on emergency services personnel, which made it "pretty disappointing" to hear of the recent incidents.



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