La­bor to bring in two-para­medic crews


A RE-ELECTED An­drews govern­ment will de­liver bet­ter care for peo­ple in Bendigo and cen­tral Vic­to­ria – with Rochester am­bu­lance sta­tion fi­nally hav­ing two fully trained paramedics in their am­bu­lances un­der a $109 mil­lion pack­age pledge.

Af­ter fierce lo­cal cam­paign­ing for two-para­medic crews in­stead of one, it ap­pears un­der a re-elected An­drews govern­ment Rochester’s am­bu­lance woes may be solved.

The govern­ment has in­di­cated it will move to­wards two-of­fi­cer crew­ing for all sta­tions. Ac­cord­ing to the Am­bu­lance Union, the govern­ment has promised, if re-elected, it would sit down with the union within its first 100 days to de­ter­mine how the re­main­ing sta­tions would be up­graded.

‘‘It’s fan­tas­tic news,’’ Am­bu­lance Vic­to­ria as­sis­tant sec­re­tary Olga Bar­tasek said.

‘‘We didn’t get ev­ery­thing we wanted. But 15 of the 48 branches will be con­verted to two-of­fi­cer sta­tions.

‘‘If re-elected, in the first 100 days we will be a part of a ta­ble dis­cus­sion of con­sul­ta­tion about how to tran­si­tion all other sta­tions into two-of­fi­cer sta­tions.’’

To boost care for lo­cal fam­i­lies, La­bor says it will fund more paramedics in Bendigo, with Rochester be­com­ing a dual of­fi­cer sta­tion as part of the $109m in­vest­ment in am­bu­lance ser­vices across re­gional Vic­to­ria.

“Four years ago I made a prom­ise to fix the am­bu­lance cri­sis and we have. But there’s more to do, and only La­bor can be trusted to back our paramedics,” Premier Daniel An­drews said.

Health Min­is­ter Jill Hen­nessy added: “Vic­to­ri­ans can’t af­ford to go back to the days where pa­tients were left dying be­cause an am­bu­lance couldn’t get there in time. Only La­bor will give peo­ple con­fi­dence that in an emer­gency, they’ll get the life-sav­ing care they need”.

Mem­ber for Mur­ray Plains Peter Walsh, who de­liv­ered the Rochester pe­ti­tion for more paramedics to par­lia­ment early last month, is cau­tious of the govern­ment’s prom­ise.

“It’s ironic that at the 11th hour be­fore the elec­tion Daniel An­drews has fi­nally ac­tu­ally re­alised where Rochester is – the ques­tion to be asked is: can we trust him?’’ he said.

‘‘We are still wait­ing on his govern­ment to solve the Ran­dom House is­sue and the Rochester Sports Mu­seum lease of the rail­way sta­tion, farm theft is still rife across the district... and we’ve got the ridicu­lous wire ropes along the North­ern High­way to re­mind us of his legacy.

‘‘If you also add in the list of bro­ken prom­ises across the state, I am a long way from be­ing con­vinced that any­thing Daniel An­drews prom­ises for coun­try Vic­to­ria will be­come a re­al­ity.”

A for­mer mem­ber of the Am­bu­lance Aux­il­iary, Chris­tine Wright, has been a ma­jor ac­tivist for boost­ing Rochester’s am­bu­lance staffing lev­els.

‘‘This is a huge step in the right di­rec­tion,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s a won­der­ful out­come for the com­mu­nity, as we de­serve to re­ceive a higher level of care.

‘‘This has been a hard fight but one that needs to be won.

‘‘Ru­ral branches are vi­tal and we ex­pect the same ser­vice as met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas, and we cer­tainly do not want paramedics work­ing alone.

‘‘Peter Walsh has done a ter­rific job in sup­port­ing our cause but un­for­tu­nately it is be­yond him.

‘‘It is dis­ap­point­ing the Lib­eral-Na­tion­als party has not sup­ported our cause with any fund­ing to date.

‘‘At this stage our sit­u­a­tion will only be sup­ported if the An­drew’s govern­ment gets re-elected.’’

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