As we rub the sleep from our eyes after what was hopefully a merry Christmas, it seems we should have been asking Santa for some extra paramedics and investment in our ambulance service.
Earlier this week the volunteer-run Premier Speedway, which injects millions into the region's economy each year, was told paramedics would not be stationed at the track like they had previously. There's not enough paramedics.
Our paramedics are true inspirations. They see and deal with life and death situations every day and along with our other emergency services workers, we can't live without them.
We understand Ambulance Victoria's first priority is caring for all Victorians in their moment of need. But how did we get to this point? Two weeks ago Ambulance Victoria confirmed it would be trackside at Premier Speedway for its comeback event but on Tuesday the plan changed.
Ambulance Victoria said in a statement to The Standard demand for its services had risen since COVID-19 restrictions had eased and while it supported events, it couldn't do so in the foreseeable future.
Callouts were always going to rise after the restrictions eased and people became more mobile. There's more people on the roads, playing sport and holidaying in regions. But no more than a year ago.
It begs the question, have we got enough paramedics in the region? If not, why not?
Two weeks ago we reported the ambulance union was concerned about public safety because it feared more shifts would be dropped this summer. Paramedics were previously paid overtime if they had to travel to another station to cover a shift. But the payment has been scrapped so a Warrnambool paramedic potentially has to travel to say Hamilton before starting their shift and then drive home again with no compensation.
This issue goes beyond the speedway, which cannot run without paramedics on site because of the potential dangers.
At the end of a year dominated by public health, we know the importance of frontline health professionals. It is clear we need more paramedics in the region. Simply, it's a matter of life and death.