A STUDY which found paramedics were twice as likely to be injured as police officers has come as a surprise to a seasoned Toowoomba ambulance officer.

The report, published on the Medical Journal of Australia website, also stated the risk of serious injury among Australian paramedics was found to be more than seven times higher than the Australian national average.

It also found the fatality rate for paramedics was about six times higher than the national average.

Darling Downs Local Ambulance Service Network executive manager Superintendent Glen Maule said he didn't think the job was as dangerous as police work.

The majority of his 37 years of Queensland Ambulance Service experience have been based in Toowoomba and south-west Queensland.

Supt. Maule acknowledged there were risks involved in many aspects of being a paramedic.

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He said having lights flashing and sirens blaring when travelling to emergencies didn't ensure other motorists would give way at intersections.

"There is a risk there that of course, in this day and age, with car radios on, people talking on phones, conversations happening in the car, windows wound up, you don't hear the sirens," Supt. Maule said.

Darling Downs Local Ambulance Service Network executive manager of operations Superintendent Glen Maule.
Darling Downs Local Ambulance Service Network executive manager of operations Superintendent Glen Maule. Bev Lacey

"There is every possibility that even though we take all of the precautions and we proceed through that somebody just doesn't see us and unfortunately an accident does happen."

Patients can also prove to be occupational hazards.

"When we are dealing with different cases there is an inherent risk, with the population that we have now, of even though they call for the ambulance, sometimes when the staff arrive on scene it is not appreciated that they called us.

"Some people can get quite aggressive when we do arrive on scene and try to help people."

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He said paramedics were trained to be mindful of negative reactions.

"If the scene is not safe our rules are that they don't go in.

"If they feel in any way shape or form that there is any danger to them that they stand back and wait for the police to arrive to support us in doing what we have got to do for the patient."

He said police dealt with a lot more dangerous situations in their day-to-day duties.

"The biggest thing I suppose from our perspective is that people do actually call us for help.

"I think the majority of the people do accept that when the ambulance officers do arrive on the scene they accept the fact that we are there to help them," Supt Maule said.



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