Union concerned at new duties
Tasmanian health unions are concerned new changes could see firefighters responding to medical emergencies in the absence of paramedics.
The state government's proposed Fire and Emergency Services Bill outlines the Tasmania Fire Service's role in providing medical assistance when necessary.
The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) has criticised the draft legislation, saying the state should be investing in the health system and Ambulance Tasmania rather than expecting firefighters to assume paramedic responsibilities.
HACSU state secretary Robbie Moore described the government's proposal as “dangerous” and a result of its failure to address the existing health crisis adequately.
The United Firefighters Union of Tasmania has expressed unease about the potential increased expectations on professional and volunteer firefighters to respond to medical emergencies, particularly if paramedics are unavailable.
The union has highlighted the uncertainty surrounding the draft legislation and raised concerns about the under-resourced status of the Tasmania Fire Service.
While acknowledging the concerns, the Tasmanian government says that the purpose of the draft legislation is to enhance the skills of all first responders, denying any intention to replace the crucial role of paramedics.
Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Felix Ellis says comprehensive first aid skills are needed across the community, and that the proposed legislative framework aims to ensure effective responses in critical moments.
The government notes that the consultation on the draft legislation is ongoing and plans to present the bill to parliament in the coming year.