Claim police had to drive ambulance

A POLICE officer was forced to drive an ambulance while the paramedic attended to the patient in Sale on Saturday December 7, according to a Labor party spokesman.

Labor’s Parliamentary Secretary for Health Wade Noonan said the situation which unfolded in Sale on a Saturday night demonstrated the state government’s “botched management of the ambulance service”.

“This farcical set of events is another example of the crisis in our ambulance system that the Premier refuses to acknowledge,” he said.

“On Saturday night in Sale a paramedic was forced to rely on a police officer to drive the ambulance so that the paramedic could continue to provide care to an unconscious patient while on the way to hospital.

“Leaving aside the fact that the ambulance crisis has now affected the police force, how can Mr Napthine continue to ignore the fact the system is struggling to cope?”

Mr Noonan said the situation could have been far worse.

“Having to rely on police officers or anyone else to assist a paramedic demonstrates just how deep this mess has become,” he said.

“From clogged emergency departments to a blow-out in response times, our ambulances service has never been as bad as it is now.”

Mr Noonan said the case in Sale followed a string of deaths in the Gippsland region this year involving ambulance delays, including an 83-year-old man from Lakes Entrance who died after waiting 28 minutes for an ambulance; an Orbost man in his 60s who died after waiting 37 minutes for an ambulance; a 66-year-old man from Metung who suffered a heart attack and died after waiting 24 minutes for an ambulance; an 83-year-old woman from Paynesville who died after suffering a heart attack and who waited 18 minutes for an ambulance; and a 72-year-old from Lakes Entrance who died after he waited 26 minutes for an ambulance.

“The situation is getting completely desperate in some parts of our state, but no more so than in regional and rural Victoria,” Mr Noonan said.

“Response times are getting longer, hospital ramping is out of control and dispatch times have gotten worse, which is resulting in people dying while waiting for ambulances.

“Mr Napthine needs to stop bragging about the ambulance service.

“It’s not working and vulnerable Victorians are suffering as a result.”

Ambulance Victoria regional manager Mick Stephenson said while the incident was not commonplace, it was not unusual for police in rural Victoria to drive an ambulance to hospital when there is one paramedic on the ambulance caring for a patient.

“In this case, a police officer who was already at the scene assisted while the paramedic attended to a patient, whose condition improved en route to hospital,” he said.

“The ambulance that responded to this case ordinarily has a two-person crew but had a single paramedic when the call came in due to a sick leave vacancy which was in the process of being filled.

“A second paramedic joined the crew on that ambulance soon after this case.”