FOURTEEN-hour shifts and often only 10 hours to recover is a serious workplace dilemma for many North East paramedics.
But senior officer Paul Bellman said it was only through the goodwill of his colleagues that service delivery had been able to continue.
“You’re fatigued because you’re going from job to job to job,” he said.
“You’re then sent to extremely critical cases.
“That puts increased pressure on the individual to have to perform at a higher level and perform skills many of which are reserved for medical officers in hospital.
“But we’re remunerated at a level that is not reflected anywhere else in the health system. It’s absolutely appalling.”
Mr Bellman said overtime was now at “an all-time high”, though provisions of the previous enterprise bargain agreement — now almost a year past its use-by date — meant paramedics were paid “a pittance’ for working extra shifts.
“There are a lot of extra shifts because people are worn out, fatigued and unwell and can’t return to work, and we can’t cover those shifts because the paramedics aren’t paid any incentive to do that work,” he said.
Fellow senior paramedic Scott Burns yesterday produced running sheets that showed numerous shifts every month that couldn’t be filled because of overtime and fatigue issues.
“Everyone’s paying their taxes, or subscribing to the service, but where’s the money?” he said.
“It’s certainly not with us ... on the front line.”
As part of their campaign, Wodonga paramedics and their Hume colleagues will be out in the community telling all who will listen of the demands of their job, and the problems caused by what they call a massive shortfall of resources.
“It is a thankless job a lot of the time but the thanks we get is the smile on the face of a family member when we leave, or thanks from a person as we move them on to a hospital,” Mr Bellman said.
“The outcomes aren’t always good, but a sense of having done the right thing and tried every possible thing that we can buoys us.
“One of the most important things of this action is we’re not going to endanger the public in any way.”