20 November 2019

Paramedics will be fitted with high-tech body cameras from tomorrow as part of the NSW Government’s $48 million reform package to improve the safety of frontline health staff.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said paramedics from Liverpool, Sydney Ambulance Centre at Eveleigh, and Hamilton in suburban Newcastle will be part of a 12-month voluntary trial.

“We need to look after the people who look after us and if this technology can help deter abuse and assaults against frontline paramedics, we need to give it go,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Hopefully, agitated individuals will modify their behaviour when they realise their actions are being recorded because our paramedics are not a punching bag for anyone’s frustration.

“Paramedics are there to help us and it is never OK to abuse them. Assaults carry heavy penalties and, if needed, bodycam footage will be used as evidence when prosecuting people.”

NSW Ambulance Chief Executive Dr Dominic Morgan said 60 body cameras will be used in the trial by paramedics and if it is successful, more could be rolled out state-wide.

“When the idea of body cameras was raised at the paramedic roundtable, the NSW Government listened and worked with us to introduce the technology,” Dr Morgan said.

“The cameras will be another set of eyes for our paramedics and in addition to hopefully deterring abuse, there is scope to use them for training purposes further down the line.”

The body cameras pilot follows additional NSW Government reforms introduced over the past 12 months to improve paramedic workplace safety including:

  • $24 million for a technology upgrade including:
  • upgrade of mobile data terminals to pinpoint the location of paramedics .
  • new in-vehicle radios to ensure enhanced reception.
  • enhanced duress procedures and reporting.
  • $3.3 million for face-to-face occupational violence training.
  • $ 4 million for high-tech smartphones to overcome radio blackspots.

The NSW Government is investing more than $1 billion in NSW Ambulance in 2019-20, including $27 million to employ 221 extra paramedics and call centre staff. These staff are the second tranche of a record workforce boost of 750 to be deployed over four years.