Ambos not home

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Ambos not home

MIRBOO North is left without paramedics when they are sent to towns such as Welshpool, Moe and Warragul.
On two occasions within four days, paramedics were away from Mirboo North for almost two-and-a-half hours according to documents supplied to The Star.
In another example, paramedics responding to an emergency in the Latrobe Valley were unable to attend a case at Boolarra.
The Star understands part of the problem is ambulances are now being dispatched from a Ballarat call centre rather than in Gippsland.
Until August 25, call centre staff were based in Morwell and used local knowledge about freeways and rough terrain.
At the same time Ambulance Victoria strongly defended their procedures for dealing with cases.
Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria general secretary Steve McGhie said the big problem with long distance dispatches was that Mirboo North was left uncovered by paramedics.
“There are issues of increased risk in responding further away,” he said.
“Also Mirboo North is staffed by one paramedic, plus the use of community officers, and it puts a greater demand on the use of the community officer.”
Mr McGhie said he assumed Mirboo North officers were being dispatched to faraway places because the system comes up with the closest available ambulance.
“It’s one of those issues where there’s a lack of local knowledge,” he said.
“Under the terms of reference they have to dispatch an ambulance in a certain time frame, so it will come up that Mirboo North is the closest ambulance and they will dispatch it whether that is logical and practical (or not).”
Ambulance Victoria manager of communications and referral Danny McGennisken said communications centre staff continually monitor ambulance resources to ensure they are best placed for responding to emergencies.
“From time to time our crews respond to cases that fall outside of their usual area – this is part of normal processes and practices,” he said.
“We anticipate such cases arising and encourage paramedics to notify the communications centre at the time of the dispatch and during the response phase if they believe there might be a better option.”
Mr McGennisken said the system provides the status and location (using GPS data) of response resources.
For one period in early September Mirboo North paramedics were dispatched on long distances every day.
. September 2 at 11.55am sent to Morwell leaving Mirboo North uncovered for two hours and 25 minutes;
. September 2 at 4.13pm sent to Morwell again and on arrival found out they were not needed. At the same time an ambulance was required at Boolarra;
. September 3 at 5.20pm sent to Warragul despite closer options available via freeway, so case was cancelled;
. September 4 at 6.25am sent to Moe, but dispatch cancelled after consultation;
. September 4 at 9.01am sent to Port Welshpool and cancelled as the crew returned to Mirboo North;
. September 4 at 2.02pm sent to Leongatha hospital to transfer a patient to Warragul, leaving Mirboo North uncovered for two hours and 25 minutes; and
. September 5 at 4.13pm sent to Morwell and not required on arrival, but Mirboo North was left uncovered for an hour.
Nationals leader and Gippsland South MP Peter Ryan said he had heard of difficulties with road names due to the Ballarat-based call centre.
“I’ve had reports where ambulances have been sent to the wrong area because there’s a road of a similar name in a location that is not the right place,” he said.
Mr Ryan said people had told him the reason for slow response times was the new dispatch system.
“The auditor general has commented on that as being an element of his findings,” he said.
“Departmentally it has to be acknowledged there needs to be more training. You cannot beat local knowledge.”
The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority ambulance call centre in Ballarat was expanded earlier this year.
The Ambulance Victoria Strategic Plan for 2010-2012 aimed to “rationalise rural communications centres” to achieve “statewide consistency in call taking and dispatching” by 2012.

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=258

Posted by SiteAdmin on Oct 19 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. 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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