Victorian paramedics will get high-tech body cameras as part of a new trial to protect them from the rising rates of violence they experience on the job.
Starting next week, paramedics at St. Vincent’s and Epworth hospitals, and from Point Cook Branch and Sunbury branch will wear body cameras attached to their uniforms when responding to volatile medical emergencies.
The trial which will last for six months will be progressively rolled out in June and July of this year to 27 branches, involving up to 550 paramedics and around 150 cameras.
Paramedics are often exposed to occupational violence as they are at the frontline of unpredictable medical emergencies.
“We’re sending a strong message – violence, and aggression towards paramedics is never OK,” said Premier Daniel Andrews.
“This trial is just one of the ways we are working to keep our dedicated paramedics safe while they are out on the job, saving lives.”
The cameras will record incidents only when paramedics are in danger. It will not record all emergency cases.
Paramedics will start recording once they feel they are at risk or are threatened, warning people that they are being filmed. Vision can then be used as evidence for police investigations and prosecutions.
The Victorian Government has delivered $500,000 from the Health Service Violence Prevention Fund to trial the cameras as a deterrent in high-risk situations.
“Hardworking paramedics care for us at our most vulnerable and save lives – they deserve to feel safe and respected at work,” said Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy.
“Body cameras are another way we’re putting the safety of paramedics first. They will be a deterrent in high-risk situations where paramedics are confronted by threats or abuse.”