Onslow in cri­sis over para­medic short­age

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Court­ney Fowler

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.

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