Paramedics in the Victorian state of Australia seem to be an overworked lot and that could be putting at patients at risk.
The personnel say they are so overworked that fatigue is affecting their judgments, with some even falling asleep at the wheel, according to a new survey.
Nearly 350 paramedics, or 20 percent of all Victorian paramedics, participated in the survey, conducted online by Ambulance Employees Australia (AEA) over February and March.
In the survey, 73 percent said fatigue was caused by the workload during their shift, with 27 percent saying they had a diagnosed medical problem caused or exacerbated by work-related fatigue.
AEA Victorian secretary Steve McGhie says paramedics, patients and the broader community are being put at risk by fatigue caused by paramedics' extreme workload and dangerous rostering arrangements.
"For the last few years ambulance caseload has increased at a much higher rate than operational staffing levels," McGhie says.
"These findings are a clear sign that our ambulance system is in crisis and that Premier John Brumby has taken his eye off the ball."
He says there is an urgent need for a major increase in ambulance funding for additional paramedics.
"Extra staff will help reduce the workload of paramedics, enable them to get proper meal and rest breaks and have some down-time between cases," McGhie said.
"More staff will also help us chip away at the dangerously high levels of overtime and fatigue and enable paramedics to have some days off to get a proper rest, and allow for better rostering arrangements."