0411 129 797
0411 129 797
0422 992 193
0421 900 110
0417 995 135
0401 401 400
0418 957 876
Members have stated for quite a while that the SOC chairs have past their use by dates. They have not been replaced for a long time and are used 24/7 and have exceeded their lifespan.
SJA discussed the roll out of new chairs for SOC staff at a significant costing ($70,000) to replace the old chairs in the room. Rollout of these new chairs should occur shortly (this was initially raised in the February JCC), with a hope from SJA management that the chairs should arrive within the next few weeks.
Members, tired of receiving constant audio feedback through the antiquated headsets supplied by SJA are asking when safer equipment is arriving. This will significantly reduce employee stress, workplace injuries and time of work for our members in the room.
SJA will report back to employees when this equipment will arrive.
The auditing process is different per officer, there are too many inconsistencies. The auditing process is not performed by peers, SOC officers are audited by office staff who are trained to audit calls, however, they have not performed any of the roles they are auditing. The process is regarded by SOC employees as unsupportive, un-educational and a punitive tool used by management.
SJA state they will change this to make it a fairer process, and will see if the ‘older’ model of auditing (performed by peers) can be re-instated. SJA still believe the audit process is fair.
Leave exchanges have been denied, whilst others have been approved, the policy appears to be applied differently across the board.
SJA stated the leave policy has been followed, with the minimum of 6 weeks’ notice needs to be given to change leave blocks. They did however state that if an officer needs to change leave as a matter of priority then they should be emailed to assist this change to occur were reasonable.
Members are concerned of the lack of staffing levels in SOC, this is leading to poor morale and employee burnout. There are multiple vacancies not being filled, and all shifts are experiencing over 400 missed triple-0 calls. Call takers constantly seeing 8 plus triple-0 calls on the screen not being answered.
SJA stated there is a current business case at Director level for sign off for 20 new officers. However, SJA are mindful of staff being subjected to ‘mentor fatigue’; meaning at such busy times and new staff already being mentored they are mindful that staff have been extremely busy and a new run of mentoring will soon occur.
The AEAWA stated that 20 new call takers is just the ‘start’, the Joyce Inquiry into the Ambulance Service identified the need for 14 call takers (with the workload we had ten years ago), we regularly run shifts with half this amount.
Members believe that high call volumes, low staffing levels and a lack of support are the cause of low morale in the room. Members state the workforce is at breaking point and the new round of audits are pushing staff to high stress levels.
SJA believe some of the previous mentioned outcomes to issues raised in this meeting will certainly help to reduce employee concerns.
The AEAWA agreed ‘as long as SJA actually follow through’.
The allocation of dispatch hours was raised again to state the allocation is not equitable and that officers on less than full time hours were receiving more radio hours than others especially on shift crossovers as the DM’s were shift specific with rostering hours.
The AEAWA advised that this was an issue as some officers are being disadvantaged and asked why a non-manager e.g. Country Support could not do the allocations which makes it easier for officers to approach and discuss as a peer decision. Some shift/officers are happy but others are not.
SJA stated they would look at the situation as they were not aware there was an issue.
Members were asking about the creation of permanent positions at Wangara as well as Belmont.
SJA responded that the organisation was looking at increasing clinical presence and that open discussion in regard to location was holding back a decision to make permanent positions for SOC members. At this stage the current arrangement will remain until outcomes on staffing and other attributes were finalised.
The AEAWA raised the issue with HLM’s liaising with the ANC when a 1 for 1 swap/transfer was called in by the particular hospital. SOC radio operators are constantly under pressure to clear P1 & P2 calls in the community and without consultation the crew who is ramped suddenly appears on a transfer to another Hospital which has been arranged through the HLM and the ANC; leaving community calls of P1 & P2 still waiting. This should not be occurring as it DOES NOT free a crew from the ramp but simply incurs a further ramping situation elsewhere and increases waiting times in the community.
SJA replied that the HLM are to communicate through the RTM or DM as they are managers and not ANC’s. The preference is to attend to community calls before IHT’s unless the transfer is urgent and is going to a definitive location i.e. not through the ED department where it is likely to have a ramping effect on the crew.
The AEAWA asked SJA to circulate this instruction to Metro to pass to the HLM’s and Communications Centre staff to ensure everyone is on the same page.
A SOP will be written on changing volumes on the radio for dispatchers to follow to reduce injuries. There have been too many acoustic shock events in the SOC. This initial SOP will assist in reducing some employee injuries, but not all.
SJA have currently emailed officers, notifying them of the SOP, and visual warnings next to the desk for staff to follow have been placed.
The AEAWA recognises this is a small intervention as the wider issue is still occurring. The equipment our members are using in the room has been proven to be unsafe, antiquated and responsible for numerous injuries.
In line with trying to reduce employee injury SJA have stated they will purchase 60 Acoustic Protection Devices for both the SOC and Wangara Hub.
SJA have stated these will be installed in the room by March 2nd 2021.
In line with trying to reduce employee injury SJA have stated they will purchase 100 MDA Paltronic headsets for each employee.
SJA have stated these will be purchased and given to employees by March 2nd 2021.
Members at the SOC have stated numerous times that the chairs they are using are uncomfortable and have outlived their use by dates. Numerous times SJA have been approached to purchase new chairs in the room.
SJA have assured both the AEAWA and SOC employees that the new chairs will be provided by March 2nd 2020.
One of the things looked at with CAD, a suggestion to go from 3 screens to one screen (big HD screen) and allow staff to set the screens up as they wish. This was to allow for a more seamless working environment.
Will be trialled soon, potentially on one radio then is feedback is positive a potential rollout.
Poor slow systems, multiple crews can not acknowledge AmbiCad so SOC are constantly asking crews for locations, causes angst amongst all parties and slows down the system. This causes significant stress and can result in crews taking longer to respond to the community.
SJA will review this and will provide feedback.
What is happening with the sound cards on the computers (not all have them). Employees can not comply with the EMD training modules.
SJA will review this and upgrade any of the computers that do not have sound capability.
Potential review of the system to see what can possibly change in order to change things make it smoother and faster. Currently the computers freeze, the headsets vibrate and allow loud shrieks into the employees ears. Multiple injuries have occurred. WorkSafe WA have been involved multiple times and Radio cant seem to fix the issue.
SJA will review this and present findings at the next JCC.
Enough is enough. the AEAWA believe after 14-months and 30 incidents resulting in at least 7 employees needing time off work the organisation seems to be doing nothing to rectify these issues.
Some SOC staff that use the balcony area for breaks are being advised they can not due to meeting occurring in the area. There are plenty of areas for staff and management to hold meetings, these should not occur in staff lunch areas.
SJA to review any issues, however it was agreed that this area is for SOC staff.
Staff are advised to email the AEAWA if they are feeling pressured to leave their lunch area.
It was discussed that SJA are recruiting and training staff that are only working in the SOC for short periods of time, i.e., they apply for multi SJA positions, they may work in SOC for 6 months then leave to enter the paramedic training at university. In most cases SJA know this when employing these individuals. This places pressure on SOC staff to train an individual they know is leaving.
SJA has previously discussed this with various areas within and so far, this issue may potentially be ongoing until a solution is found.
Some individuals are arriving to work and not completing the full 12-hour shift, examples were provided on staff arrive at work at 06:50 and logging out and going home at 18:30. This leaves officers who have already worked their complete shift to stay even longer.
SJA do not want to change the times but will if a solution is not found they will have too. An email that you are employed for 12 hours will be sent by SJA, or a start/finish time will be decided by the organisation. Trial to fall back on the duty managers to monitor the times when are people clocking in and clocking out. Perhaps canvas the membership on what they want as well.
Data on calls taken from SOC for PTS was presented, the hours of PTS had previously changed in order to reduce a multitude of calls being received in the SOC.
Start and finish times for PTS were reviewed and are being monitored. Potential to explorer the inability of SOC to send jobs to PTS 1.5 hours before end of shift. SJA to review these instances and provide feedback.
Constant computers freezing, radio failures, systems that are antiquated and obviously are not keeping up with what needs to be required. Further updates to the systems often cause a multitude of issues causing stresses within the SOC.
SJA will review the issues.
Country Redial number country support, can the number be identified so it can come back to caller as callers call back and these are received by the RTM. Phone on dispatch for country, it should be like metro, the dispatcher is performing too many roles as the support is taking ‘000’ calls.
Once staff numbers improve the dispatcher will have a dedicated dispatcher on phone and also a country support officer to assist with the workload.
When is this staff number increase supposed to happen?
An extra Country Dispatcher to assist will limit significant employee stress. Country radio is extremely busy and with the person who is supposed to assist is always taking triple-o calls as the employee numbers within the SOC are dangerously low and often result in the community spending minutes trying to get though for an ambulance.
SJA believe this should occur when numbers increase.
The AEAWA would like to know when these ‘apparent’ extra employees will arrive.
Jandakot’s often sitting on screens for 24 hours, often causes delays, and there is a potential for calls to be missed. the allocation system constantly looks at these crews being available for calls. Causes significant stress for Radio Dispatchers sorting through crews who can actually attend the calls.
SJA believe the RFDS liaison office should be doing this, cleaning up the screen.
New inductees being provided a permanent shift. They are being told in the college they will be, then they come out and are placed on a rotating shift pattern, this causes issues with childcare and other family commitments.
SJA will look and review, rosters will start going through the list system to fill the gaps in the roster so that students can be placed into areas after current officers are assigned to shifts. Leave blocks may need to change if you move to various other shifts. An April deadline for this process is more likely. A 16 week rotation may occur rather than every 8.
Radio etiquette, crews often click instead of acknowledging and correct radio use in some cases are not occurring. This often-required dispatchers to ask multiple times on air for an acknowledgement, which causes delays on dispatching other calls on the screen.
An email to all staff will be sent by SJA as a reminder of correct use of the radio.
The new ‘Sir’ or ‘Maam’ protocol, why is it necessary, creates confusion and staff think they appear unprofessional and not caring.
SJA will review this and review EMD specifics and will proved feedback.
A Selcall at Cowcher is required, at times it is difficult to contact the crew.
SJA will review this and a consensus will be sought to see if one should be located there.
Sporting standbys on CAD creates confusion as the crews are coming up for metro responses which at times have delayed responses. We are struggling with no staff to answer triple-o calls, sometimes shifts miss over 400 emergency calls and staff are now logging on country crews for a sporting event. This takes a call taker out of the system for a sporting event.
SJA will review and provide feedback.
NSW have a Zero Tolerance for abusive callers, some staff are being harassed on the phones and disturbing threats and/or comments are being relayed to staff. There is currently no protection by SJA for these occurrences, and there needs to be. ASNSW did a media campaign around this problem before the policy to ‘hang up’ was introduced.
SJA want further discussions to take place around this.
Country vehicle phones an issue, too many numbers to call, phones in the vehicles, crew personnel mobiles and multiple depot mobiles cause delays in contacting crews. This results in poor response times to the community as valuable minutes are wasted calling multiple phones.
SJA will look into this.
Booking crews off on extended standbys, usually happen in country with certain long-term response (i.e bush fire standbys), these are occurring more and it is difficult to book crews off over this time frame..
SJA state this has been fixed.
Country Sporting events, SOC are placing these events on, receiving multiple calls during busy times, can these not be done by the crew or Regional Office? We are missing too many emergency calls, why are we then stopping answering triple-o calls to log a crew on for a sporting event? Which one of these does SJA prioritise?
Further discussions to reduce these calls have already commenced and feedback will be provided.
Here you will find information specific to Communications Officers; including your Certified Agreement and any AEAWA Statements relating to both the SOC and Wangara Hub.
Here you will find information specific to Communications Officer surveys and results from each of the surveys you have assisted with. Your participation in these surveys is vital for feeding information back to the SJA Executive.
Over the past 16-months there have been numerous reports relating to acoustic shock incidents and acoustic shocks occurring within the State Operations Centre (SOC). Employees have reported injuries from perforated ear drums to headaches and severe jaw pain, along with ear irritations. The AEAWA have contacted WorkSafe WA on numerous occasions as a result of employee complaints and the employer St John Ambulance Western Australia (SJA) to date being unable to find the cause of these incidents.
Click here to view the survey results.
56.6% of surveyed SOC personnel have been subjected to an Acoustic Shock Incident.
93.3% of surveyed SOC personnel feel unsupported by St John Ambulance WA.
90% of surveyed SOC personnel believe the equipment they are using is unsafe.
73.2% of surveyed SOC personnel support industrial action in order to make their working environment safer.
News articles and media reports relating to your employment will be situated here. If you find articles you think should go up here please email the link to the committee ([email protected]).