A LOCH Sport man who received burns in a house fire last Monday night was allegedly forced to wait two hours for an ambulance, after it was despatched from Lakes Entrance.
The man received burns to his arms, hands and face after a pot caught fire while he was cooking. He had attempted to throw the pot out, but the door was locked, and he returned it to the stove to unlock the door.
As he placed the pot back on the stove, the fire accelerated up into the exhaust fan, spreading through the ceiling.
Loch Sport CFA captain Dennis Berg said the man was in shock when his unit arrived, and received treatment from a Sale MICA paramedic, but could not be transferred to Central Gippsland Health in Sale until an ambulance arrived.
“One of the local boys came up and donated his time off his own bat,” Mr Berg said, speaking of one of the town’s ambulance community officers.
“I’d like to see a permanent MICA unit in town, so he can get on the job quickly and get it sorted a bit until the ambulance arrives....especially during busier periods like Easter and Christmas,” he said.
“They’ve got the station for it - we could set something up in the ambulance station down here.”
Mr Berg said the two hour delay just wasn’t good enough.
“We’re a community where 80 per cent are elderly, and I know of families who have moved out to be closer to the hospital,” he said.
“It could have been one of my boys.
“I see on TV they’re [Ambulance Victoria] saying they’re sticking to response times — that might happen in Melbourne, but it definitely doesn’t happen here.”
Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said it “beggars belief” that Lakes Entrance could be the nearest available ambulance for Loch Sport on a quiet Monday night when there were ambulance services available in Sale, Maffra, Traralgon, Yarram and Bairnsdale that were all closer.
“I’m pleased that a MICA paramedic was able to treat the man, and I know our ambulance officers do a good job, but a two hour wait and an ambulance having to travel from Lakes Entrance just seems incredible,” Mr O’Brien said.
“I’ve written to the minister to seek an explanation as to why this would occur, but also more generally about ambulance services to places like Loch Sport,” he said.
“The Labor government has talked up its ambulance credentials, but it seems based on latest figures and this incident, it’s not always delivering in Gippsland.”
An Ambulance Victoria spokesperson claimed the MICA paramedic arrived 42 minutes after the initial call, with a road ambulance arriving 25 minutes after that.
He said the patient had suffered “minor burns” to his fingers and face.
The spokesperson was unable to explain before deadline why an ambulance was despatched from Lakes Entrance to attend the incident.