ACO’s play a critical role in providing emergency care in Victorian regional areas, where the emergency caseload is not deemed to justify a dual paramedic crew. However, by utilising clause 33.3 in the 2015 EBA (40.3 in the 2020 EBA), AV have been using ACO’s to fill paramedic shifts in regional centres. Clause 33.3 reads “ACOs may be used to support paramedics providing single officer responses where two officer crewing is not immediately available.”
Recently AEAV has been discussing the issue of ACO utilisation with rural paramedics in Bendigo. We believe this issue is broadly felt around the state and as such we would like to hear the perspectives of rural paramedics, on the issue and how it affects you.
We all understand that sometimes it is impossible to backfill sick leave. The AEAV believes though that ACO utilisation is becoming too frequent and that there are insufficient controls to protect ACO’s and paramedics.
As a rural Paramedic you will understand that working with an ACO in a busy regional centre is different to working with an ACO in a small rural community. One significant difference is that if a Paramedic at an 8/6 branch becomes fatigued they are entitled to take a fatigue break. The Paramedic who is rostered to work with an ACO in a regional centre is not able to implement this protection.
Additional resourcing is the key to reducing the frequency, but as we all know, additional rostered resources do not turn up overnight.
What controls do AV need to implement to keep you safe when additional resources are not available?
We want to hear from you about what needs to be done to ensure that Paramedic safety and patient care is prioritised on the occasions when this occurs.