Onslow para­medic bur­den crit­i­cal

Pilbara News - - News - Court­ney Fowler

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.

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