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Ambulance Victoria calms concerns after images spark fear about inadequate paramedic protective gear

Images of a Victorian paramedic dressed in a flimsy plastic gown have sparked concerns about the standard of protective personal equipment (PPE) provided to ambulance workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ambulance Union secretary Danny Hill said there is an adequate supply of PPE, but poor instructions on how to wear the gear has resulted in incorrect usage.

When Mr Hill saw the image (above) of a paramedic in a plastic gown he questioned whether it was a joke.

“It looks like a shopping bag,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

The PPE worn in the photo is not the new standard in Australia. It is a gown which is designed to be worn on top of other protective gear.

“The communication around all of this stuff has been quite all over the shop,” Mr Hill said.

“We’ve got a gown out there that is meant to be worn on top of another gown, but if you’re not told that…”

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There is a worldwide shortage of PPE as the coronavirus crisis escalates.

Executive Director of Clinical Operations at Ambulance Victoria, Mick Stephenson, assured Australian stocks are not low, but the style of the protective gear may change due to supply issues.

“What had been used previously was an overall which is in fact the Ebola standard, and it’s beyond what’s required,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“What’s being provided at the moment is meeting the standard but we understand the anxiety among our paramedics, given they’ve worn a higher standard previously, and should we be able to access that we will provide it.”

Today, 59 Ambulance Victoria paramedics are away from work due to COVID-19, with 21 of those off work because they have been in contact with a patient who may have been positive for coronavirus.

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