Questions over ambulance delay for injured firefighter

AMBULANCE response times have again been called into question following a CFA truck rollover near Dargo on Sunday.

CFA Melbourne media unit would only confirm a CFA unit operating near Dargo was involved in a single vehicle incident, with one firefighter flown to Latrobe Regional Hospital, where he was treated and released.

The spokesman said the incident was, like all fire ground accidents, under investigation.

The Gippsland Times has been told the first response from Ambulance Victoria took one and three quarter hours to attend.

It is believed no ambulance paramedics were rostered on in Bairnsdale, the closest station, that evening, so the Paynesville ambulance with one paramedic and a volunteer Ambulance Community Officer was dispatched to cover the Code 1 (lights and sirens) call out.

Ambulance Victoria regional manager Mick Stephenson confirmed Ambulance Victoria was called to treat a man with an injured shoulder near Dargo on Sunday night.

“He was in the care of colleagues who took him to a local primary school to rendezvous with ambulance paramedics,” he said.

“A road ambulance and helicopter were dispatched as a paramedic in a bush fire incident control centre liaised with people who were with the patient.

“Our road ambulance negotiated dark, winding roads in smoky conditions to reach the man and he was treated at the scene before being conveyed to a cricket oval to meet the helicopter,” Mr Stephenson said.

“He was flown to the Latrobe Regional Hospital in a stable condition.

“When someone calls us for help, we’d like to be able to have an ambulance on scene as soon as possible and we understand that the time taken to reach patients can be concerning for those waiting,” he said.

“We are working closely with incident controllers at fires across Victoria and provide whatever ambulance assistance we can when they request it.”

The long response time and the need to call on Paynesville has been questioned by Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Wade Noonan.

Mr Noonan asked whether Ambulance Victoria had allocated sufficient staff to cover the areas of Gippsland currently under threat from bushfire.

“Ambulance Victoria has said they have sick leave to contend with, but this is not the first time problems with rostering (in the Gippsland region) have occurred,” he said.

´╗┐For more read Friday’s Gippsland Times.