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Australian ambulance dispatchers complain about lollipop ban

Ambulances respond to an emergency call in Canberra, Australia. (Flickr)

Ambulance dispatchers in Brisbane, Australia, under fire for bungling a call to save a critically injured man last year, say they are being "micro-managed" to death—and not even allowed to eat lollipops at work.

Documents published by the Courier-Mail on Saturday revealed that a Brisbane man who was pinned under a truck in his driveway had died of a heart attack after waiting almost 40 minutes for the right paramedics to arrive. According to the report, "a hungry dispatcher wrongly coded [the] case as non life-threatening before going on a break" while a "key clinical supervisor was also in the mealroom."

Dispatchers in southeast Queensland are banned from keeping food at their desks, the paper noted, which allegedly has led to ill-timed snack breaks and low morale.

"It's been a long-running issue," United Voice ambulance coordinator Jeanette Temperley told the Courier-Mail. "They can't even have a snack, like a muesli bar or anything. They're definitely micro-managed."

"You can't have ... even a lolly," one anonymous dispatcher complained.

Not everyone sympathizes with their plight.

"They're forgetting the basic principle of what they're there for," Australian Paramedics Association President Prebs Sathiaseelan told the paper. "Worrying about a can of soft drink or lolly is absolutely trivial."

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