Safety gear trial launched for St John WA frontline team
- New six-month trial of safety equipment for ambulance crews is under way,
- More than 160 frontline team members volunteered to test body-worn cameras and stab-resistant vests as part of the initiative,
- The trial will include metropolitan and country ambulance services then expand to event health services.
St John WA ambulance crews are trialling new safety equipment to help protect against violent and unpredictable behaviour from patients and the public.
More than 160 team members including emergency ambulance crews and those working across patient transfer and event health services opted in to participate in a six-month trial of stab-resistant vests and body-worn cameras in a first for Western Australia.
The gear complements other safety measures including de-escalation training and close cooperation with other agencies to ensure ambulance crews are as safe as possible when attending emergency incidents.
St John WA records about 260 incidents of violence and aggression incidents against ambulance crews each year, resulting in 326 team members being injured in the past five years.
Group Chief Executive Kevin Brown said the initial pack included eight vests and 20 cameras, with plans to expand resources over coming months.
“Operational team members tested a range of products and opted for a lighter 1.4kg vest which enables team members to move freely to provide assistance,” Mr Brown said.
“As part of the trial, the body-worn cameras will be worn throughout shifts, however will only be activated when a team member believes their personal safety is at risk.
“The video and audio recordings will be made available to police to assist in prosecutions.”
Mr Brown said the stab-resistant vests would be worn at commencement of shift when leaving the station or worn when risk assessment by officer(s) prior to attending a scene ascertained a vest was required.
“Our goal over the next six month is to determine if this equipment makes a real difference to the safety of team members before rolling it out permanently, he said.