Emergency service workers welcome new road laws

BIG WIN: Ambulance Victoria Sebastopol senior team leader Andy Fleming and paramedic Hayley Gale have welcomed new laws to ensure their safety on the roadside. Picture: Jeremy Venosta

BIG WIN: Ambulance Victoria Sebastopol senior team leader Andy Fleming and paramedic Hayley Gale have welcomed new laws to ensure their safety on the roadside. Picture: Jeremy Venosta

Ballarat paramedics have welcomed government changes that will force drivers to slow down to 40 kilometres an hour when passing emergency services.

It will cover any incident where emergency services are flashing their blue and red lights on the roads.

Ambulance Victoria Sebastopol senior team manager Andy Fleming said most paramedics could recall a time they were nearly hit by careless drivers.

“We have had multiple near misses in Ballarat involving ambulances being at the scene of patients,” he said.

“I reckon a good 85 per cent of paramedics would be able to tell you a story about a close call they have encountered on the job due to hazardous traffic conditions.

“We have had injuries sustained while trying to get out of the way of fast moving cars.”

Mr Fleming said a young paramedic had injured her shoulder while diving back into an ambulance to avoid a dangerous driver on the road side.

Another paramedic was clipped by a side mirror in Melbourne.

Mr Fleming said ambulance officers often had not way to control traffic when they were the first people to arrive at a serious incident.

“You could potentially have two car loads of people to two paramedics.

“You are trying to look after the patient in a multi-trauma accident and you just want to know people around you in their cars are going to take care.”

Vehicle will also have to slow to 40 kilometres when passing police vehicles on the side of the road.

Motorists face a $277 if they do not slow down from July 1, but no demerit points will apply.

The rules apply to all police, fire, State Emergency Service and ambulance vehicles.

It includes regulation traffic stops by police officers.

Ballarat Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Pat Cleary said it was expected the speed reduction would enhance safety for police officers.

“Anything that makes our workplace safer will be beneficial,” he said.

“Drivers will need to be vigilant at all times, especially in higher speed zones, in the 100 to 110 kilometre zones.”

There have been 28 police deaths on the roadside.