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Dr Michael Eburn ANU College of Law and Fenner School of Environment and Society (and a former NSW Ambulance ‘paramedic’) Paramedic law.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr Michael Eburn ANU College of Law and Fenner School of Environment and Society (and a former NSW Ambulance ‘paramedic’) Paramedic law."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr Michael Eburn ANU College of Law and Fenner School of Environment and Society (and a former NSW Ambulance ‘paramedic’) Paramedic law

2 In this seminar What it means to be a paramedic and the push for national registration; Issues to do with paramedic practice; and Why you don’t want to crash your ambulance!

3 I’m a paramedic – are you? What does the word ‘paramedic’ mean to you? What makes you a ‘paramedic’? What distinguishes a paramedic from –an ADF ‘medic’? –A ‘first aider’? –Me?

4 Consultation paper: Options for regulation of paramedics, July 2012 Option 1: No change Option 2: Strengthen statutory health complaint mechanisms Option 3: Strengthen State and Territory regulation of paramedics Option 4: Registration of paramedics through the National Scheme

5 Current regulatory schemes Ambulance services are established under health, or emergency service legislation… Except in WA and the NT! The sector is largely unregulated in these jurisdictions (and hence it is WA leading the discussion on regulation).

6 What happens if… A patient gets less than optimal care? An unqualified person holds themselves out as a ‘paramedic’? An event organiser thinks they’ve booked advanced life support paramedics but gets something else? How do you are anyone else know what a ‘paramedic’ is?

7 Health and Disability Services (Complaints) Act 1995 (WA) Allows complaints about a health service, which includes any ‘ambulance service’. If an employer provides onsite paramedics, are they providing an ‘ambulance service’? Or a first aid service (Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (WA) r 3.12).

8 Paramedic practice Paramedic practice is unregulated in WA. Your scope of practice will depend on your employer, and your training. What is the duty of a paramedic?

9 There is no duty to rescue a stranger The common law does not require people to go to the aid of a stranger. If you do go you must act ‘reasonably’ But the duty is not to make the situation worse; you don’t have to make it better.

10 What is reasonable? It depends on: –The likelihood of an adverse outcome; –The probability of its occurrence; –Cost, inconvenience and difficulty in taking alternative action. (Wyong Shire and Shirt (1980) 146 CLR 40).

11 What about… Operating as a Medic/Paramedic under Medical Direction where do responsibilities and liabilities rest. Where additional skills outside of the assigned scope of practice have been taught and they are not a nationally recognised competency.

12 Use of drugs “The Poisons Act 1964 (WA) and Poisons Regulations 1965 do not provide any direct ‘group’ type authority for ‘paramedics’ to access and administer scheduled medicines.” “A paramedic can only administer scheduled medicines under the authority of a person holding a Poisons Permit to purchase and store scheduled medicines for the purpose of providing ‘health services’ (Poisons Regulations 1965 (WA) r 10AA).”

13 Driving – the National Road Rules A provision of these regulations does not apply to the driver of an emergency vehicle that is not being used for official duties by a police officer if — (a) in the circumstances — (i) the driver is taking reasonable care; and (ii) it is reasonable that the provision should not apply; and (b) the vehicle is a motor vehicle that is moving and the vehicle is displaying a blue or red flashing light or sounding an alarm. (Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) Reg 281)

14 ‘A provision of these regulations…’ –PART 3 -- Speed restrictions –PART 4 -- Making turns –PART 6 -- Traffic ‑ control signals –PART 7 -- Giving way –PART 8 -- Traffic signs and road markings –PART Keeping left, overtaking and other driving provisions The sort of thing you’d get a traffic ticket for.

15 They do not deal with serious offences –Dangerous driving causing death, injury etc. –Dangerous driving causing bodily harm –Reckless driving –Dangerous driving –Careless driving (Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA)). –Manslaughter (Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA)).

16 … driver of an emergency vehicle emergency vehicle means a motor vehicle — … (c) being an ambulance, answering an urgent call or conveying any injured or sick person to any place for the provision of urgent treatment; or (d) being used to obtain or convey blood or other supplies, drugs or equipment for a person urgently requiring treatment and duly authorised to carry a siren or bell for use as a warning instrument; or (e) duly authorised as an emergency vehicle for the purposes of these regulations, by the Director General;

17 …the driver is taking reasonable care What does that mean? Who decides?

18 … it is reasonable that the provision should not apply When will that apply? Consider Road Traffic Code r 62 –(1) A driver approaching a pedestrian crossing shall drive at a speed at which the driver can, if necessary, stop safely before the crossing. –(2) A driver shall give way to a pedestrian who is on a pedestrian crossing.

19 … displaying a blue or red flashing light or sounding an alarm.

20 Duty to give way Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) r 60 (1) A driver shall give way to, and make every reasonable effort to give a clear and uninterrupted passage to, every police or emergency vehicle that is displaying a flashing blue or red light (whether or not it is also displaying other lights) or sounding an alarm. (2) This regulation applies to a driver despite any other regulation that would otherwise require the driver of a police or emergency vehicle to give way to the driver.

21 Civil liability is not affected You must take reasonable care when driving. You must expect that people will not –Notice you or; –Know what to do. Damages will be paid in accordance with the Motor Vehicle (Third Party Insurance) Act 1943 (WA).

22 In short You can do what you like, so long as you don’t crash and If your driving in circumstances where someone would say ‘they’re going too fast’ then, you’re going too fast.

23 Questions and comments? Thank you for your attention. Check out the Emergency Law blog - Michael Eburn P: E:


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