Belmont, Perth,

Ambulance executive takes to the streets

St John Ambulance executives, led by Chief Executive Officer Tony Ahern, spread out across the metro area this week to see first-hand the daily working conditions faced by paramedics, ambulance and transport officers.

Mr Ahern said the ambulance service was facing daily challenges, especially throughout winter as demand peaks.

“We have never been busier. By getting out on the road we can assess how we are using our resources as well as talk to our people on the ground,” he said.

“We have a culture of engaging, listening and being responsive to staff at St John and this is just one other way we can tap into that.”

Mr Ahern, who has worked with St John as a paramedic, stressed the importance of the whole team comprising seven executive members to be able to get out with crews on the road at least four times a year, covering each of the four shifts worked by ambulance crews.

Directors will also separately head out with crews more often throughout the year, in particular the Clinical Services and Ambulance Services directors.

This latest time allowed the executive to look at some recent initiatives brought in by St John.

“The ambulance surge capacity unit (ASCU) at Hollywood Private in May as a three month trial is one of these things,” Mr Ahern said.

“Obviously we are tracking its progress very closely and the executive group is pleased that we are seeing some of the benefits of this unit.”

The ASCU can cater for up to 15 low acuity patients. These patients can be assessed and potentially triaged through an alternate care pathway (such as referral to Silver Chain).

Mr Ahern said other alternate pathways introduced this year was referral of patients affected by drugs and alcohol to Bridge House, a facility run by the Salvation Army and referring low acuity patients to a Silver Chain nurse.

The next scheduled on the road exercise will see the executive head out on a Friday night in October.


Useful facts

  • The ambulance service in Perth treated almost 185,000 people in 2011/12.
  • This was achieved with 700 operational (ambulance and communications officers) staff.
  • The State Operations Centre received more than 446,000 triple zero calls in the 2011/12 financial year.