New ambulance laws

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New ambulance laws to increase protection for Tasmanian patients and paramedics have come into effect.

The Ambulance Service Act 1982 introduces specific offences for assaulting, resisting, impeding or failing to comply with the direction of an ambulance officer.

The CEO of Ambulance Tasmania, Dominic Morgan, said the new laws provide improved safety for patients, community and of course our staff working in the ambulance service.

"Our paramedics deal with challenging circumstances every day and they must be allowed to go about their work without fear or obstruction," Mr Morgan said.

Importantly from 1 July 2014 it will be an offence for a person to call themselves a paramedic who does not have the appropriate qualification permission of the Commissioner of Ambulance Services to do so.  This will give certainty to Event organisers and the community that a person calling themselves a paramedic has the requisite skills and qualifications to care for them safely. 

It will also be an offence to mark a vehicle with the word Paramedic if it is not being staffed by an approved, legally qualified paramedic.

Mr Morgan said new standards are also introduced for commercial non-emergency patient transport providers.

"Where there are operators engaged in non-emergency patient transport the new laws ensure they are doing so within a strong, transparent and safe legislative framework," Mr Morgan said.

"All providers must meet certain standards, including skill and competency levels.

"Existing non-emergency patient transport providers have been consulted about the changes and will have a two-year phase-in period.

"A further consultation process will be held as the Regulations to underpin the Act are developed."

The changes ensure Tasmania is up-to-date with contemporary standards with a focus on protecting patients and paramedics.

Ambulance and emergency management practice has advanced considerably over the past thirty years and the previous legislation did not give a contemporary definition of paramedics and non-emergency patient transport services.

Areas covered by the new laws:

  • Strengthen provisions dealing with offences against the Ambulance Service.
  • Increase the penalty for false ambulance calls from 10 to 100 penalty units.
  • Clarify the power to force entry to premises in emergency situations to reach someone requiring emergency assistance.
  • Define the role of paramedics and provide legal protection to the title and clearly distinguish between emergency response services and other forms of patient services such as non-emergency patient transport.
  • Provide a power of direction for paramedics and clarifies their legal right to enter premises if they believe ambulance services are required.
  • Clarifies the role of paramedics in relation to other emergency services
  • Provide a licensing and regulatory framework for non-emergency patient transport.
  • Expand the offence of representing a motor vehicle as an ambulance
  • Prohibit the unauthorised use of Ambulance Tasmania insignia, logo or uniforms and all types of vehicles as well as persons.