Colac group says lives at risk due to ambulance shortage

CLAIMS that use of Colac’s sole ambulance vehicle for non-urgent hospital patient transfers to Geelong is jeopardising community health have been played down by Ambulance Victoria.

The CosWEcount group has called for extra resourcing to ensure at least two local ambulances are available at all times for emergency response rather than having to rely on back-up from  Camperdown and Geelong.

Group president Paul Cross said only two of the 11 paramedics staffing Colac ambulance station lived in the city while the others lived closer to Geelong.

He said one in four emergencies in Colac were responded to by the Camperdown ambulance, which resulted in Colac having a 22-minute average response time.

“Recently another death occurred, more than likely as a result of Colac having only one ambulance, which was busy, forcing a patient to wait an hour for an ambulance to respond from Camperdown,” Mr Cross said.

Ambulance Victoria’s south-west group manager Gary Castledine said average response times to code-one cases had improved annually for the past three years and staffing levels at Colac were consistent with similar centres across Victoria.

“All calls for ambulances are assessed on their severity, with paramedics responding to life-threatening emergencies and the sickest patients first,” he said.  “Our communications centre duty managers monitor the workload of  our paramedics and have procedures to recall staff to duty and divert crews to higher-priority cases.

“Colac has a dedicated and responsive team of professional paramedics who are proud to serve the community.

“Ambulance Victoria is undertaking a pilot of a CFA emergency medical response model in outer Melbourne and Shepparton.”

Mr Cross’s group called for a special statewide fund to be established for hospital-ambulance non-emergency patient transfer to ensure local ambulance services remained available at all times for emergency response. 

The group also called for the Country Fire Authority to be made available as first responders to resuscitate, provide pain relief and stabilise patients until an ambulance team arrived.

CosWEcount is a community advocacy group based in Colac aiming to improve health and ambulance service in Victoria.

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