You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Qld ambos look at body cam issue

AAP logoAAP 26/07/2016 By Darren Cartwright

Ambulance officers will be asked if they want to be fitted with body cameras following a sharp rise in assaults including the stabbing of a paramedic on Fraser Island.

Queensland's ambulance union will in the next few days directly put the question to members for the first time.

The move comes after Queensland police last week announced body cameras would be rolled out to officers across the state.

United Voice Queensland secretary Gary Bullock told AAP that he personally supports body cameras but paramedics are reluctant to endorse them because of patient's concerns and privacy.

"Paramedics obviously think of patients before themselves," Mr Bullock said.

"We've got domestic violence, sexual assault, women giving child birth. Even if the camera isn't on, you are going to give some sort of stress or anxiety to the patient."

However, following the attack on 56-year-old paramedic Philip Switzer on Fraser Island on Friday, there is growing "angst" among the ambulance officers, says Mr Bullock.

A woman allegedly stabbed Mr Switzer, who was the lone attendant at Happy Valley ambulance station, late on Friday afternoon and demanded drugs.

Police are still searching for the offender although Mr Bullock concedes that if a body camera had been worn, she may have been easily identified.

In April paramedics were given the all clear to sedate agitated or violent patients to prevent vicious attacks.

Mr Bullock said a previous survey only asked paramedics to list the priority of body cameras alongside about half a dozen other issues and it was well down the list.

"The angst within members is on the increase and they are sick and tired of being on the receiving end, particularly with drug or alcohol-fuelled violence," he said.

"I want to absolutely get a position from paramedics throughout Queensland ... there's more members talking about it than there has been."

Paramedics undergo self defence training and Mr Bullock says another serious concern is "one person" stations, as in Mr Switzer's case.

He did not believe it was in the paramedics best interest to carry pepper spray.

Body cameras will be part of the front line police uniform by Christmas.

Last week, the government announced it will issue 2200 body cameras in addition to the 500 already on the Gold Coast.

The cameras are switched on but not recording and once activated capture the previous 30 seconds of an incident.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon