Volume 2 Issue 3

Is the Australian paramedic discipline a profession? A national perspective

Background Over the past century the Australian paramedic discipline has gone through a dramatic evolution; moving from its origins of an ambulance driver to its current practitioner role as an integral member of the Australian health care system. However, at present the Australian paramedic discipline is not considered a full profession by the national or state governments. This begs the further question, how does the paramedic discipline within Australia view itself? Objectives This paper has two objectives: 1) To examine whether or not the Australian paramedic membership views itself as a profession, and 2) if it does not regard itself as such, whether the paramedic community wants to be considered a full profession within Australia. Methods 3800 questionnaires were posted to all Australian College of Ambulance Professionals (ACAP) members around Australia. An investigation of attitudes towards professionalisation were investigated using an 8-item paper-based self-report questionnaire using a 5-point Likert scale (1=Strongly Disagree to 5=strongly agree). Findings A total of 872 paramedics (23 % response rate) returned completed questionnaires. The responses indicated that, broadly speaking, the Australian paramedic membership does not consider itself a recognised profession, furthermore, the Australian membership indicated a desire for paramedics to be recognised as a profession. Conclusions Given that first, the paramedic discipline does not presently view itself as a full profession and second, the paramedic discipline wants to become recognised as a profession. The study identified a set of underpinnings of professional paramedic practice; including professional autonomy, national accreditation for paramedic education programmes, and the development of a unique body of knowledge.

Atlanto-occipital dislocation in children: saving a life in the trauma field

Traumatic atlanto-occipital dislocation is (AOD) a serious injury of the cervical spine that occurs in children. It is more common than previously thought and is estimated to account for 6–8 % of all fatal traffic injuries. The cause is usually a high energy trauma, resulting in a disruption of the ligaments and membranes that give support to the craniocervical junction between the occiput and the proximal cervical vertebrae. These supporting structures are incompletely developed in children, thus predisposing the paediatric population to develop an atlanto-occipital dislocation under traumatic circumstances. Early recognition and improved pre-hospital care have increased the survival rate and yielded a better prognosis for these children. Therefore, every high energy trauma, for example a traffic accident, should raise suspicion of atlanto-occipital dislocation, especially if combined with a significant head injury. Furthermore, symptoms originating from brain stem and spinal cord injury may be another sign of a dislocation. Early recognition of a possible atlanto-occipital dislocation, stabilisation and management in the trauma field and rapid transportation to the hospital are measures that improve the survival rate and prognosis of these children.

The paramedics' role in safeguarding and protecting children and young people

In the aftermath of well–publicised child abuse cases such as the United Kingdom examples of Baby P and Victoria Climbie governments, communities and professions have begun to question their role in the protection and safeguarding of children and young people. Safeguarding, protection, abuse, neglect and need are all distinctly separate terms within their own right and yet jointly play a part in the safety assurance of children and young people. This article reviews the current literature and investigates a paramedics' role in safeguarding and protecting children and young people. It introduces future research possibilities and raises questions as to the education paramedics currently have in such an emphatic and emotive area of practice.