PARAMEDIC Scott Duffy has been in his profession for 18 years and knows too well the effect that his work can have on his health.
“I was assaulted three times in three weeks, in November 2015 and as a result I had to take three months of workers’ compensation,” he said.
Under a new scheme which was introduced on August 20 by the New South Wales state government, injured paramedics who can no longer work will have their entitlements slashed by up to three-quarters.
Local paramedics are arguing the new scheme puts injured paramedics well behind injured police officers.
Mr Duffy who is also a Health and Services Union sub branch member said paramedics were twice as likely to be injured on the job than police, seven times more likely to be seriously injured than other workers and six times more likely to be killed on the job.
Under their current death and disability scheme, ambulance officers will receive a maximum two years of compensation where as police officers can claim up to seven.
Mr Duffy has questioned why paramedics can not claim the same amount for income protection as police when the job is twice as dangerous.
“We’re appealing to premier Mike Baird to give us parody with police,” he said.
“At the end of the day we’re not asking for a pay increase or for more benefits.”
Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams MP however, said the NSW government does value the work of paramedics and continues to fund an insurance scheme in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.
“The new income protection scheme provides new benefits to sick and injured paramedics who received nothing under the old scheme because their illness or injures did not result in permanent total or partial disability,” she said.
“The previous lump sum benefits for disability have been replaced by a two-year income protection benefit to support staff during a period of recovery and rehabilitation before they return to work. This is not a lump sum or ‘payout’.”
“The new scheme also includes transitional arrangements for claims related to injuries or illnesses occurring prior to the new scheme coming into operation.”
Ultimately, Mr Duffy said the paramedics are just asking for fairness and for the Death and Disability Award to go back to what it was under the 2008 version.
“We’re not being greedy.”
The local paramedic said the job was very unpredictable.
“You can go to a job and think it is all going to go to plan and then be assaulted or hit by a car,” he said.
There have also been an increase in paramedics claiming mental health injuries and needing time off work due to stress.
“Ten years ago you didn’t hear very much about paramedics suffering psychologically from the job, now it is very prominent in the media and that’s a good thing,” Mr Duffy said.
In Port Macquarie paramedics are regularly called to jobs alongside police, often to fatalities on the highway, or to assist patients who are drug or alcohol effected.
“We need the support of the community because the health department isn’t giving us an insurance scheme relative to the dangers that we face,” Mr Duffy said.
The public are encouraged to get on board with the campaign by signing a petition that will be present at the Red and Blue Ball on October 14.
Mr Duffy also encourages people to support the cause through the Facebook page Zero One – Code One.
Ms Williams said funding will continue for initiatives to improve the health and wellness of paramedics.