Friday, April 30, 2010

First responders and trauma down under

Anguish starts after the sirens stop
May 1, 2010

We call the ambulance in hours of urgent need but the grisly work we pass on takes its toll on the paramedics. Natasha Wallace reports on suicides and official stonewalling.

It is one of the toughest jobs in the country - an adrenalin-charged ride through what is often the worst of human experiences. But the state's ambulance service, after countless suicides and attempted suicides by staff, 11 parliamentary and internal inquiries over a decade and 96 complaints to the corruption watchdog, has yet to acknowledge the impact of years of neglect on its traumatised workforce.

Paul* is haunted by the screams of distressed children. After 32 years in the ambulance service witnessing unspeakable sadness, the sobs of the young ones who lost their siblings in a house fire a few years ago jolt him from his slumber at night. The raw howling still rings in his ears.

''When you hear it, it haunts you forever and you know that everything is futile,'' he says. ''The shriek … that helpless plea, that last expiring of breath.''
read more here
Anguish starts after the sirens stop