In my post of 29 August I talked about the definition of ‘paramedic’ in the Ambulance Service Amendment Bill 2013 (Tas). In response to some questions posed I’ve gone back to that section and realise I made a pretty significant mistake in my interpretation, most importantly I missed the words in the introductory part that says “For the purposes of this Act, a person is a paramedic if the person is – (a) an officer of the Ambulance Service who…”

I now revisit the issue of who will be a paramedic in Tasmania with the passage of this Bill. The relevant section says, in full:

For the purposes of this Act, a person is a paramedic if the person is –
(a) an officer of the Ambulance Service who –
(i) holds –
(A) a prescribed paramedic qualification; or
(B) a qualification and experience that the Commissioner is satisfied demonstrates a satisfactory level of understanding and competence in the areas of knowledge contained within a qualification prescribed under sub-subparagraph (A); and
(ii) is appointed to a position determined by the Commissioner to be a paramedic position; or
(b) an officer of a prescribed ambulance service of another jurisdiction who –
(i) is an officer of the ambulance service in that jurisdiction; and
(ii) holds the prescribed paramedic qualification, or a qualification and experience, referred to in paragraph (a)(i); and
(iii) is approved by the Commissioner as suitably qualified to provide clinical care; and
(iv) is providing clinical care in accordance with any protocols specified in the approval given by the Commissioner under subparagraph (iii); or
(c) a prescribed person, or a member of a prescribed class of persons, who meets any requirements, conditions or approvals prescribed in respect of that person or class of persons.

To be a paramedic you must fit either (a), (b) or (c).

Paragraph (a) is restricted to officers of the ambulance service. They must either hold a prescribed qualification (presumably a relevant university degree) or such other training and experience that the commissioner approves (allowing for those trained ‘in house) AND be appointed to a position that the Commissioner has determined is a paramedic position. Critically this paragraph refers or is limited to ‘an officer of the Ambulance Service…’ A person who is not employed by the Ambulance Service cannot call themselves a paramedic if they cease to be an ‘officer of the Ambulance Service’. What that would mean for Ambulance officers who are working for a NEPT provider, or St John Ambulance in their off duty hours is unclear.

Paragraph (b) is limited to paramedics from another jurisdiction operating in Tasmania, so this would facilitate interstate assistance.

Paragraph (c) is a catch all that allows regulations to list others so people who want to practice as a paramedic outside Ambulance Tasmania would need to persuade the Department and Minister to list their qualifications, position etc. In the absence of a regulation expanding the definition to private providers, it does appear that the term ‘paramedic’ in Tasmania will be restricted to employees of Ambulance Tasmania and inter-state ambulance services.

Michael Eburn
7 September