TRAGEDY: LGH accident and emergency nurse unit manager Scott Rigby meets the rescue chopper with those injured in a car accident. Picture: Neil Richardson
For most people, New Year’s Eve is a time of celebration, but for the staff at Launceston General Hospital’s emergency department, it can be highly unpredictable.
Accident and emergency nurse unit manager Scott Rigby has seen some tragediesin his time, and believes the number of incidents has increased year-on-year.
“We’re a little bit heightened, simply because we’ve seen an increase in presentations over this festive period,” Mr Rigby said.
“Compared to last year, we’ve probably seen about seven to eight per cent increase in the amount of people coming through the door.”
Mr Rigby said an increased population, higher prevalence of drugs, and warm weather presented a recipe for disaster.
He said each year was unpredictable, though the staff were well equipped to handle violent situations.
“One of the messages that we have, and we’ll repeat this year, is we’re actually here to help, it’s an increased stress time for that patient, but abuse towardthe staff is not tolerated,” he said.
Mr Rigby said support staff, open access to police, and security were there to assist in cases of violence against emergency staff.
Director of emergency Lucy Reed said alcohol remained the leading cause of admission to the emergency department, and often resulted in minor injuries.
“Often it’s not until New Year’s Day, when they wake up, but certainly overnight we can have some increased presentations,” Ms Reed said.
Mr Rigby said the trend of increased emergency department admissions appeared to be national.
Data from theAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare showed 1 per cent of hospitalisations across the countrywere drug-related, of those, 55 per cent were alcohol related.
Ambulance Tasmania regional manager Craig Westlake said additional resources would be placed aroundHobart, Burnie and Launceston.
“We want our paramedics to be safe, we’re seeing increasingly right across Australia that there are violence and assaults against paramedics…and we can’t help your mates if we’re saving ourselves,” Mr Westlake said.
“We certainly see a small increase in our workload (on New Year’s Eve), but it’s certainly not the biggest night of the year, generally it’s more confined to other events like Grand Final Day.”
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