Hospital’s self-defence bid

Jakeb Waddell and Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser

All emergency department staff at Broome Hospital are to undertake self-defence lessons in the wake of new figures showing they deal with about 10 incidents each week involving alcohol or drug-fuelled violence from people seeking treatment.

Figures obtained by the Broome Advertiser from the WA Country Health Service reveal there were 488 reported incidents of violence out of 24,354 presentations in 2017.

That equates to 2 per cent, or about 41 people every month.

In 2016, the figures were slightly worse, with 522 reported incidents of violence with fewer presentations totalling 21,955.

In the period to the end of January there have only been three reported incidents of violence, but the WACHS said the data could be affected by severe weather involving two tropical lows and a cyclone.

The WACHS said emergency department staff had already completed online aggression prevention and management training.

In June, the theory-based learning will shift to physical self-defence training, allowing staff to learn about protecting themselves, avoiding assault and mitigating encounters threatening to flare up.

A spokesperson from WACHS said looking after employees was a priority.

“The WA Country Health Service takes very seriously the safety of its patients and staff,” she said.

Broome Hospital categorises types of emergency department admissions as part of a local initiative.

The WACHS said other Kimberley hospitals had not collected the information. The latest round of training will involve all emergency department staff, including doctors and nurses.

“The day-long training would involve practical individual response training, which includes disengagement and avoidance skills,” she said.

“The course would give skills in defusing and calming situations, self-awareness and a proactive approach to customer service.”

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