Onslow paramedic burden critical
Nationals MLA for North West Central Vince Catania has accused major resource companies in Onslow of not doing enough to help relieve a critical shortage of St John Ambulance volunteers to operate the town’s service.
Last week Pilbara News revealed that with only one daytime volunteer and seven volunteers on the books to cover night shifts, the ambulance service was struggling to guarantee full-time coverage.
Mr Catania said the service needed to grow with the increasing population and road traffic that had occurred as a result of the Chevron-operated Wheatstone project, which employs more than 5000 workers housed 30km out of Onslow.
He said companies, like Chevron, needed to “step up to the plate” and provide some additional support to the Onslow sub centre.
“Surely in their camp of over 5000 people they can find a half a dozen volunteers that can help out,” he said.
“I call on Chevron to provide a solution to this problem that will not only benefit the community but also the safety of their workers and contractors.
“I believe they have a moral obligation to the town to provide financial support to pay for another permanent paramedic or find some volunteers from their large workforce.”
A spokesman for Chevron said the Wheatstone Project had been a long-term supporter of the St John Ambulance service in Onslow, providing more than $30,000 in funding for volunteer training and new ambulance equipment.
“Chevron recognises the challenges faced by remote communities in providing medical services,” he said.
“The Wheatstone Project consequently built an on-site medical facility to attend the needs of construction staff and avoid strains on Onslow’s services.
“In the case of a community emergency, Wheatstone services can be called on by WA Police for emergency response support; an example is the support provided by Bechtel staff during the 2013 Shire Offices fire.”
A BHP Billiton spokesman said the Macedon Project also had a $4000 three-year partnership with the St John Ambulance’s Onslow branch.
Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Margaret Quirk MLA said at the end of the day it was up to the State Gover nment to provide funding to ensure brigades could continue to run in the regions.
“It’s unacceptable that so few volunteers have to bare the burden in Onslow,” she said.
“No one is talking responsibility for it.
“It’s no longer feasible to fully staff regional emergency services with volunteers.”
For information about volunteering with St John Ambulance WA in Onslow, contact community paramedic Katie Evans on 0417 467 098 or visit www.stjohnchangelives.com.au.