Ambo crisis

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Ambo crisis

Police on duty: Wonthaggi Police Leading Senior Constable Stephen Van Hamond, Senior Constable Paul Venosta and Senior Constable Keith Bellinger will be working eight night shifts from Christmas night to New Year’s Day, to ensure residents and visitors have help.

THE REGION could be gripped by a shortage of paramedics as tens of thousands of people visit the coast these holidays.
Ambulance Victoria has allegedly resorted to text messaging staff on annual leave, asking them to fill roster vacancies over the holidays.
According to Ambulance Employees Association Victoria secretary Steve McGhie, messages have been sent to paramedics across rural and metropolitan areas.
“Ambulance Victoria is trying to invite them to come back and work to fill some shifts,” he said.
“We haven’t been informed at this stage as to whether there’ll be additional paramedics working these holidays,  but if they’re finding it difficult to fill the normal rosters, I doubt they’ll have extra staff.”
Mr McGhie said he thinks it was unlikely many paramedics would agree to fill roster vacancies.
“I think there’d be very few willing to do that seeing as it’s the Christmas period,” he said.
“If they get the chance to take time off to spend with their families, they’re going to take it.”
The shortage is a huge concern for key holiday destinations, such as Phillip Island, Wilsons Promontory and Inverloch, with the population across the region expected to double to 120,000 people.
On top of this, an estimated three million tourists will visit Bass Coast over summer, while every year around 880,000 visitors come to South Gippsland between November and April.
Up to 15,000 people are also expected to attend the Pyramid Rock Festival on Phillip Island for three days in the lead up to New Year’s Day.
With no medical services on the island and young people consuming large quantities of alcohol and possibly drugs, Mr McGhie said it was the worst time of the year to face a shortage.
“This issue comes up every year and it’s always left to the last minute, rather than planned well in advance,” he said.
“It’s a peak period of the year when it comes to holiday-makers and festival-goers; these places clearly need additional resources to cope with an increase in demand.”
Mr McGhie said the shortage may be due to Ambulance Victoria’s poor financial situation or budget cuts leaving it unable to provide additional crew.
Ambulance Victoria confirmed it had put a call out for paramedics on annual leave to work overtime to meet the demand of New Year’s Eve, and said that additional paramedics would be assigned to South Gippsland and Bass Coast to cater for activities and major events.
“A number of paramedics from the Gippsland region have taken up this offer and we are now finalising our additional resources,” Gippsland regional manager Andrew Watson said.
He said additional resources were also being planned for New Year’s Eve on Phillip Island and the south coast.
“Extra paramedics and ambulances have been assigned to attend the Pyramid Rock event on Phillip Island,” he said.
“These crews are in addition to other resources in the area so that we can maintain our normal service delivery to the community.”
Mr Watson also said for the first time, a paramedic would also be based at Wilsons Promontory for six weeks over summer starting Boxing Day, after a request and funding from Parks Victoria.
Meanwhile, other emergency services are increasing personnel in preparation for the holidays.
Bass Coast Police Inspector Glenn Weir said more police are coming, but he would not reveal how many.
“Same as always, we’re supplementing our numbers to provide extra services at various holiday locations including Inverloch, Phillip Island and Wilsons Promontory,” he said.
“As well as that, we have a large number of police coming especially for New Year’s Eve festivities around the region.”
Additional police have been sourced from metropolitan and regional areas, beginning last Friday and continuing until the end of January.
Local police will work as normal, however leave restrictions have ensured “everyone will be on deck” over the holidays, Insp Weir said.
With few problems with tourists during the last summer holidays, Insp Weir said police hope for a repeat of last year’s good behaviour.
“We had very few issues with either residents or holiday-makers this time last year and we are keen for that to continue,” he said.
“We’ll be heavily enforcing council by-laws around drinking alcohol in the street.”
Additional staff will also be rostered on at hospitals over the holidays, with a focus on managing the crowds during major events, such as Pyramid Rock.
“This enables us to cope with additional presentations to the emergency department, which always occur at this time,” Bass Coast Regional Health CEO Lea Pope said.
“Major events often result in an increase in attendances and our staffing is managed to ensure patients are able to receive appropriate care.”
Ms Pope said people would need to be patient during the busy period however, with staff and facilities in high demand.
“Of course in very busy periods there are increased waiting times for non-urgent cases attending the emergency department, as urgent cases will always be prioritised,” she said.
With many CFA volunteers going away for the holidays, Wonthaggi CFA lieutenant Jamie Moresco said a shortage could be a worry.
“We’ve got around 35 active members available these holidays which should be enough, but we’re always looking for more volunteers,” he said.
Mr Moresco said members are preparing for a busy season, with grassland fires a major concern this summer.
“We’re asking everybody to be really vigilant, especially if they’re burning off or having a bonfire and the wind picks up,” he said.

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Posted by on Dec 29 2011. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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