Onslow in crisis over paramedic shortage
A critical shortage of St John’s Ambulance volunteers to operate the service in Onslow means the town may no longer have guaranteed 24-hour-a-day coverage.
The Onslow sub-centre is run solely by volunteers with the support of local community paramedic Katie Evans.
Ms Evans said with only one daytime volunteer and seven volunteers on the books to cover night shifts currently, they were struggling to guarantee full-time coverage.
“In my role I am at the sub-centre to train and recruit but have had to start doing call outs myself when there are no volunteers available,” she said.
“During the day there is only one volunteer available and at night we have varied success getting volunteers who pick up their phones.
“We are also restricted with which volunteers you send out together ... a junior must be paired up with a level 2 trained medic, which means the same senior paramedics are out doing every third job when other volunteers are on holidays or not available.”
Ms Evans said she was concerned about losing further volunteers to fatigue.
“If we don’t see change soon, the Onslow sub-centre will start losing the few volunteers we do have and will end up not having the appropriate coverage required to service such a fast growing town,” she said.
“I understand we have already lost a few volunteers this year, the situation is pretty dire at the
moment.” The Onslow ambulance service has been called out to 105 jobs in the town site since the beginning of the year and is on course to surpass the 146 jobs completed last year.
Ms Evans said she believed there was a lack of understanding about the importance of volunteers to the town’s ambulance service.
In addition to providing ambulance care, St John Ambulance WA transfers patients between hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, and works closely with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
For information regarding volunteering in Onslow, please contact Katie Evans on 0417 467 098.
For more on this story, pick up the Pilbara News next week.