Ambulance Victoria’s new ID cards will make them more identifiable to people who are blind or with low vision, due to a new Accessibility Initiative organised through a partnership with Vision Australia.
All Ambulance Victoria paramedics will have ID cards with braille stickers that read “Ambulance” on one line and “0 0 0” (Triple Zero) on the line below.
This is the first ambulance service in Australia to include braille identification on their staff ID cards.
The idea originated from London Ambulance Service paramedic, Dean Buttery, after he experienced issues trying to quickly identify himself to a blind man who required assistance but was not able to call for an ambulance and was surrounded by strangers on a London street.
Kate Taylor, an Ambulance Victoria paramedic, says, “Anyone can claim they are a paramedic. But how would a patient who is blind know if someone is an actual paramedic?
“Having braille on our ID cards acts as an identification marker so you have something to prove it when you say “I am a paramedic” to a patient, or even a bystander, who is blind or has low vision.
“We don’t get to choose which patient we go to. We get a call and we go to the person that needs our help. We often need to be able to help in a variety of ways, not just through traditional verbal communication.”
Another Ambulance Victoria paramedic, Carl Attwood, says, “One of the biggest things that helps us deliver best patient care is gaining the trust of the patient as soon as possible.”
“Anything that helps us communicate with patients and streamline patient assessment, whether that be through braille on our ID cards, apps or communication boards, is going to be positive for our patients, us as paramedics and Ambulance Victoria as an organisation.”
Working with Vision Australia and consumers, Ambulance Victoria looked into the viability of the stickers during their development.
Not only paramedics are using the stickers, Ambulance Victoria corporate staff have also been encouraged to add the stickers to their IDs.
Vision Australia’s Manager of Government Relations and Advocacy, Chris Edwards, has welcomed the adoption of the initiative by Ambulance Victoria.
“This is a great example of how organisations can consider the needs of people with a disability and work alongside them to come up with a practical way of addressing them,” says Mr Edwards.
“Situations where you need help from a paramedic are likely to be extremely stressful. The stickers are a simple way to let people who are blind or have low vision know they’re receiving help from a trusted source and help put them at ease.”
The new ID initiative coincides with the Ambulance Victoria’s first Accessibility Action Plan to help service more Victorians in need.
Around 4,500 stickers have been produced so far by Vision Australia and provided to Ambulance Victoria’s 6,000 paramedics.