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Ambos on frontline of growing challenge
Paramedic Bree Morrow. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

Paramedic Bree Morrow has seen drugs and alcohol increasingly become part and parcel of her call-outs.

Often the calls are for medical reasons or to treat an assault victim, but it soon becomes apparent that alcohol and drugs are major players.

Ms Morrow, 29, who has been an ambulance officer for seven years and the last four as a paramedic, said it added another layer to the challenges of treating patients as quickly and safely as possible.

"Jobs that should be call-outs for other reasons are becoming more and more related to drug and alcohol use," she said.

"It creates a real challenge and our safety becomes more of an issue, with everyone tending to be a bit more wary if we're on night shift.

"We're relying more on police to accompany us to jobs and keep the working environment safe, and that can involve a long wait for police backup, which then delays treatment."

Ms Morrow said calls were not limited to popular entertainment precincts and included suburbs where people had house parties or stayed home using drugs and alcohol.

Some calls came through the morning after, when people showed the effects of intentionally or accidentally overdosing on recreational or prescription drugs.

But Ms Morrow said it was important not to treat patients any less professionally.

"We try to look after everyone regardless of what caused their problem and not judge them, even if sometimes they behave irrationally and lash out," she said.

"One good thing is that we're seeing more people calling for help for things like heroin overdoses, so they're not hesitating to call us, which is really important because that can save a life."

The West Australian

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