Members may have read various publications, including our own notices, surrounding the proposed MOU with the St John Ambulance.
FRM Butt, who is the lead NZFS person on the MOU project, has basically said that the MOU has been agreed to by the various organisations and would only need to be signed in the New Year.
Your Union’s position is that this is nowhere near resolved. We are still awaiting replies to two pieces of important correspondence which outline our position and more importantly our concerns over the content, protections, notifications and responses held within the first draft of the MOU.
Members in areas that do not normally respond to assist ambulance staff at medical calls may be experiencing an upsurge in attending these types of calls. This is due to an apparent instruction given to St John communications centres by their management, stating that effective immediately, Fire will be responded to all purple incidents nationwide.
This instruction has been given prematurely, before all of our concerns have been addressed.
This draft MOU was written without any reference to, or study of, overseas examples of fire service first responder programs and any of their successes or failures.
It is our opinion that fire-fighters are being used to prop up a mis-managed ambulance service, where cost saving and profits appear to take precedence over public and staff.
FRM Butt is quoted as saying they want to make the best use of our resources for the benefit of the patient. The draft MOU certainly did not reflect that statement.
Our position definitely does reflect that statement. In fact our position would have provided far earlier first response to every paid district for medical emergencies, while reflecting the need for higher level of training and the very real potential for increasing the technical knowledge, the complexity and authority of fire-fighters jobs.
It is clear to your Union that current first aid training is not sufficient to respond, arrive first or even assist hardworking understaffed ambulance staff at medical emergencies.
Fire Service responders need to be trained to a higher level. Clear evidence of the difference between first aid courses level 2 and the more advanced pre-hospital care course are available on the St. John web site.
Members are advised to be careful when responding to these medical emergencies as there are a myriad of pitfalls and dangers involved, not the least being cultural issues and stress.
Members are advised to contact an on duty executive officer should they require critical incident stress debriefing or if they have any concerns at all about responding to medical emergencies given the training they currently have. Members also asked to copy any and all correspondence they have with management, to the Union office.
Your Union will be contacting management again, to follow up on the MOU and St Johns actions and reinforcing our concerns. We will keep members advised.