Allaying ambulance site fears

AMBULANCE Victoria has moved to allay Gippsland Vehicle Collection concerns a possible new ambulance station would block the view of its motor museum, saying it would work with the organisation should it acquire the site.

Ambulance Victoria regional manager Gippsland Mick Stephenson confirmed the vacant block of VicTrack land was an option being considered, but the suitability of the site is yet to be determined.

“We’ve found it very difficult to find a site in Maffra, so everyone thinks it’s going to be easy and it’s not,” he said.

“So we’re back to the point where we’re looking at a couple of sites that may be suitable.

“The VicTrack site is one of them.

“We don’t know whether we are going to buy that site yet; we certainly intend to pursue it and see if it’s a viable option for us.”

Mr Stephenson said Ambulance Victoria would work with vehicle collection representatives should it obtain the site.

“If it is a viable option, then there’s a couple of things we need to do,” he said.

“One is, make sure we get approval to build on it, then secondly, or most importantly, is to consult with the community.”

Mr Stephenson said if Ambulance Victoria did end up buying the site, the building would be “sympathetic with its surrounds”.

“That includes the car club and also to make the car club visible to those from the road,” he said.

Mr Stephenson said he believed Ambulance Victoria would have support from the community, should it go ahead with the site.

“We’ve got a lot of people in the Maffra community that have actually let us know that they would like us to be on that site; we’ve had people from the car club tell us they would like us to be on that site,” he said.

“So we think we’ve probably got support, but we will talk to the community in a public meeting or whatever they want, when we know if we can actually secure it.”

Ambulance Victoria Maffra-Heyfield team manager Jim Ballard said people were “kind of jumping at shadows a little bit at the moment”.

“There’s just a proposition for us to buy it; we need to do the due diligence,” he said.

“We’ve been down this process for two years and we still don’t have a block of land.

“It’s really difficult to find something in Maffra.”

Mr Ballard said Ambulance Victoria was looking for a site because it had outgrown its current premises, which it shares with the CFA in Johnson St.

He said the service had expanded from a two officer, one on duty and one off duty, branch when it moved into the facility.

“Fifteen years later there is a minimum of 10 officers there,” Mr Ballard said.

“We have five volunteers working with us as well, that work out of that station, and we sometimes have more than those numbers when we get roster overflows.

“So, even with 10 people it’s just too much of a stretch.

“It was never designed to hold that many people.”

Mr Ballard said the service had looked at several blocks that hadn’t “come up to scratch”.

“I really love the Gippsland Vehicle Collection, I’m actually a member, but I think sometimes you have just got to share,” he said.

Mr Ballard reiterated planning was in the early stages, the ambulance service had not bought the block and there would be a formal process to go through, should the establishment of an ambulance station go ahead on that site.

“… the fact there are people writing in suggesting that we have petitions to stop us from looking at it, I mean it’s just ridiculous,” he said.

“It’s an essential service, it’s something everybody wants there yesterday, and yet we are now getting this thing where people are saying well, we would really love to have the ambulance service in town but we don’t want it here (on the VicTrack land).”

Mr Ballard’s letter to the editor