St John gears up for safe transition
- WA’s frontline emergency ambulance service has prepared for borders to open as part of Western Australia’s Safe Transition Plan.
- Preparations includes growing the Specialised Isolation Ambulance vehicle fleet, recruitment of more than 230 additional frontline personnel and flexible deployment of personnel in metropolitan and regional WA,
- Preparations have been informed by the experience of ambulance services around Australia and overseas.
St John WA’s preparations for borders to open as part of the Western Australian Safe Transition Plan have been informed by the experience of ambulance services interstate and overseas.
- Recruiting an additional 233 frontline positions during 2022, including 155 registered paramedics,
- Modifying seven vehicles to be Specialised Isolation Ambulances which reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission. This increases the total SIA fleet to 17,
- Developing a pathway to introduce mixed crews in the event of pressure on the ambulance front line due to the spread of COVID-19 resulting in increased demand, a reduced workforce and/or increased ambulance ramping,
- Bolstering deployment options for paramedics to regional WA,
- New guidelines to increase and monitor Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and critical equipment, including securing supply chains.
The measures are supported by a big investment in the ambulance frontline during 2021, including:
- Adding 60 staff to the State Operations Centre and doubling recruitment through Direct Entry, resulting in more than 260 additional frontline personnel recruited since mid-2020,
- Funding 18,000 additional shift hours through overtime and recruitment,
- Appointing Hospital Liaison Mangers to fast-track patient handover in EDs and support frontline staff,
- Continuing a Secondary Triage Team to deliver suitable patients to alternative care pathway,
- Facilitating triage en-route for ED bypass through a Virtual Emergency Medicine program,
- Introducing a Patient Transport Paramedic trial for Priority 4 inter-hospital transfers
Combined, these activities returned about 12,000 hours of emergency ambulance care to community last year.
St John WA Chief Executive Michelle Fyfe said St John had worked with union representatives to plan for mixed crews to support the front line and maintain services in the event demand for Triple Zero (000) responses increased following borders opening.
“We are fortunate to learn from our counterparts interstate and overseas to inform our plan to respond to a rise in demand, including introduction of mixed crews where a paramedic is paired with a trained St John specialist to respond to emergency Triple Zero (000) calls.”
“Just as important as our ability to scale up to respond to demand is the trigger points which allow us to rapidly return to normal operations,” Ms Fyfe said.