Nagambie Ambulance Services
21 February 2018
My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Ambulance Services. The action I am seeking from the minister is that she base a paramedic in Nagambie on a full-time and ongoing basis. The community of Nagambie lobbied for months and months and months to achieve a paramedic service in that community. I hope members of this house are familiar with the issues there, because I raised them over and over and over again in the first couple of years of this government's term in office. I acknowledge the minister's efforts to respond to our campaign by agreeing to base a paramedic in Nagambie supported by two ambulance community officers. I should also point out that that model was not the model that was originally proposed by the community, but the community was willing to meet the minister halfway in order to achieve a compromise.
We celebrated that achievement, because we felt that the government had finally recognised that Nagambie has a growing population, that ambulance response times were just not up to scratch and that there was huge pressure on the town's community emergency response team (CERT) volunteers. But unfortunately since that announcement in 2016 we are now seeing that the service has been quietly eroded to the point where paramedic coverage in town is now at only 12.5 per cent. For only 12.5 per cent of the time there is a paramedic actually on shift in Nagambie, and even more worryingly there are now rumours around town that in three weeks time the government plans to pull that paramedic service from Nagambie, leaving it with only ambulance community officers (ACOs). That is equivalent to a regression to where we were before 2015, because whilst ACOs are paid, they are qualified to the same extent as CERT volunteers and a CERT volunteer team is what we previously had in place.
Residents in Nagambie are very worried about this development. They are worried that service levels may return to where they were before. I am also very concerned about the pressure that that is placing on the ACOs in the community, who are arriving at emergencies where there is an expectation that they can deliver the service of a paramedic, because that is what the community believes they are getting. But when they arrive, they are only able to do the job of an ACO because there is no paramedic on hand. That is becoming a very stressful situation for those ACOs. In effect what we have is a CERT vehicle with CERT volunteers.
April is a peak time for Nagambie. We have the Head of the River and a number of major events, and I urge the minister to address the situation.