Revisit Nagambie ambulance trial
08 October 2015
Ms Ryan (Euroa) - I raise an issue for the Minister for Health. The action I seek is that she reviews her decision to implement a trial of paramedics in Nagambie and, in light of the response time data released yesterday, commits to a permanent, ongoing service.
In recent weeks I have collected thousands of signatures from Strathbogie Shire residents calling for the Minister to adopt the Coalition’s plan to station two paramedics and an ambulance community support officer in Nagambie permanently. The data is indisputable. Ambulance Victoria’s annual report revealed yesterday that only 34.9 per cent of code one incidents in Strathbogie were responded to in 15 minutes or less last year.
To put that into context, the average number of code one incidents across the state met within that timeframe was 74.3 per cent. Just down the road, in Shepparton, 73 per cent of code one incidents were met within 15 minutes. The government cannot deflect this issue any longer. Nagambie needs a real solution and that solution must involve a permanent, 24 hour ambulance presence.
This is an issue of public safety. It is an issue of equity. It is an issue of fairness.
Following extensive lobbying, last week the government finally announced that it would temporarily place a paramedic unit in Nagambie from the end of November to February 6 and for six days over the Easter period. The trial will only operate three days a week and even then only between the hours of 10am and 10pm.
Unfortunately this does very little to address the community’s concerns. As we all know, heart attacks, car accidents, and other medical emergencies do not occur only during day time hours.
As a result, the town’s CERT volunteers – of which there are now very few – will have to remain on call for the peak holiday period, as well as the other 10 months of the year.
This announcement has been seen as is a cynical attempt to buy our co-operation.
I put it to any member of this House – would you be willing to raise your children in a community where – if they became critically ill - you knew an ambulance might not arrive in time to save them?
Would you be willing to see your parents retire there? By ignoring the concerns of the Nagambie community, by refusing to make investments based on the response time data, that is what the government is asking of Nagambie residents.
On Monday, a school bus carrying 47 school students from Nagambie to Euroa Secondary College ran off the road after it collided with a semi-trailer. Thankfully, no one suffered serious injury and I would like to put on record the community’s thanks to the emergency services who attended that accident, but it could have been much, much worse. Without adequate ambulance coverage, an accident like that doesn’t bear thinking about.
Even the secretary of the Ambulance Employee Union Steve McGhie is calling for Labor to act. This week he said: “The ambulance union has not changed in its believe that the Nagambie catchment needs five full time paramedics stationed in Nagambie with an ambulance community officer support. The ACO positions could be made up of current CERT members who have upgraded their skills to fulfil that role.”
Labor claimed there was an ambulance crisis before the last election. They claimed they would fix it. So far, we’ve received nothing but a half-hearted attempt to placate the community.
If this is a government that truly governs for all Victorians, it would act and it would act now.