MORE than half of Tasmania's paramedics say they regularly struggle to keep their eyes open when driving an ambulance, according to a new survey.
The Tasmanian branch of the Emergency Medical Service Protection Association surveyed about 50 paramedics in the state in January.
The EMPSA expanded into Tasmania in June and is calling for the state government to boost funding and resources to the ambulance service in response to low morale and alarming fatigue levels.
Of those surveyed:
- 100 per cent said they felt fatigue at work.
- 36 per cent had just three to four hours' sleep between night shifts.
- Another third had only slightly more at four to five hours.
- 57 per cent said they had had trouble keeping their eyes open driving an ambulance within last month.
- When asked if they would feel comfortable to call the duty manager and admit they were too tired to continue work, 89 per cent answered no.
``They don't care and you get labelled weak,'' one respondent commented.
``It is only a matter of time before a staff member crashes a vehicle or suffers a major ill-health episode due to exceeding their stress/fatigue limit,'' another wrote. The association also claims crews are unable to take proper breaks during their 10-hour day shifts or 14-hour night shifts.
Ambulance Tasmania chief executive officer Dominic Morgan said the government had invested record amounts in Ambulance Tasmania providing an extra $48 million over the past four years.
``Tasmanians can be reassured their ambulance service is safe and there when they need it,'' Mr Morgan said. Eighteen new paramedics have started since December and another 12 will hit the road in April.
``The shift patterns worked by paramedics are those required under the Tasmanian Ambulance Service Award approved by the Tasmanian Industrial Commission,'' Mr Morgan said.
He also noted the survey was completed by 50 staff, a quarter of the Ambulance Tasmania workforce.