Editor's Viewpoint: Paramedic's cry for help must be heard
In today's paper we publish a story about a paramedic who has revealed the intense pressures which he and his colleagues are facing.
In his shocking Facebook post he reveals the extent of this pressure which, he claims, may lead to staff self-harming, and perhaps putting them at risk of committing suicide.
Such claims are not entirely new, but it is the graphic details of what he has experienced which paint a disturbing picture of the conditions in which paramedics are forced to work.
As first responders to an emergency, the paramedics often have to attend scenes and situations which most of us would not want to experience.
Whether the work involved is helping with the care, or saving the life, of people taken seriously ill or seriously injured, their expertise and calm decision-making are essential requirements for the job.
Many of us have seen this for ourselves, either from our own experience or watching a loved one waiting for an ambulance.
No matter how quickly it arrives, the minutes have seemed like hours, and there is huge relief when help is at hand.
It is not difficult to imagine the cumulative effect of daily pressure on paramedics who have the responsibility of dealing with such challenges.
No matter how experienced the paramedic may be, this constant tension in dealing with needy people and their families and friends just builds and builds. Added to that is the pressure of working in an underfunded healthcare system, with the paramedic staff's professionalism being undermined by forces outside their control while they are trying to give the best care possible.
There are also the horrific occasions when paramedics are physically attacked by the people they are trying to help.
Therefore, there cannot be any surprise that an individual paramedic is drawing public attention to the pressure on himself and his colleagues, and on the inherent faults in the system.
Of course people who join the paramedic service are doubtless aware of the potential pressures involved, but that in itself is no strong safeguard from the realities they encounter every day in doing their job.
The bottom line is simple. There must be better and more adequate systems put in place to protect the physical and mental well-being of medical staff on the front line. This should include adequate staffing levels, proper time off, and counselling when required.
This particular Facebook post by the paramedic is essentially a warning call and a cry for help.
It is vitally important that those who come to our aid have the proper care and resources available when they themselves need help.