Sta­tion sup­port grow­ing

Pub­lic meet­ing re­vives push for Tocumwal paramedics

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS - By James Ben­nett

A new push to have a ded­i­cated am­bu­lance sta­tion in Tocumwal is gain­ing sup­port after a pub­lic meet­ing on the fu­ture use of the former Tocumwal Bowl­ing Club.

The sta­tion was just one po­ten­tial fu­ture use of the site raised at a re­cent pub­lic meet­ing, and sup­port for it is build­ing.

Tocumwal’s NSW Fire & Res­cue bri­gade mem­bers are clas­si­fied as ‘first re­spon­ders’ and can ad­min­is­ter med­i­cal treat­ment if re­quired, but the near­est fully trained paramedics are based in Fin­ley or Co­bram.

While the Bureau of Health In­for­ma­tion says paramedics from ei­ther of these bases can re­spond ‘‘within 10 min­utes’’, lo­cals say a Tocumwal am­bu­lance sta­tion and lo­cally based paramedics would of­fer greater peace of mind.

Mur­ray Haynes was one of the com­mu­nity mem­bers at the pub­lic meet­ing to voice con­cerns about not hav­ing a Tocumwal sta­tion.

‘‘Our neigh­bour­ing towns have an am­bu­lance ser­vice but we don’t, yet we’re the big­gest ex­pand­ing town in the shire. ‘‘I think it’s about time we had one. ‘‘If there is a ma­jor fire or ac­ci­dent on the road and the fire ser­vices have to at­tend a scene, what hap­pens if at the same time some­one suf­fered a heart at­tack?

‘‘They would have to wait at least 10 or 15 min­utes for the am­bu­lance to come from Fin­ley.’’

Tocumwal Fire & Res­cue cap­tain Ian De­sailly said while his fire­fight­ers are trained to re­spond to an emer­gency, he does con­cede a lo­cal am­bu­lance sta­tion would be more suit­able for the town.

‘‘Our crew is trained and when we ar­rive at an emer­gency an am­bu­lance has al­ready been dis­patched,’’ Capt De­sailly said.

‘‘But I do think that a town with 2700 peo­ple should have an am­bu­lance ser­vice.

‘‘We’ll keep act­ing as first re­spon­ders for as long as we’re needed.’’

A NSW Am­bu­lance spokesper­son said it has the po­ten­tial to pro­vide more paramedics for the Mur­rumbidgee Lo­cal Health District area, but would not say if Tocumwal was an area of fo­cus or in­vest­ment.

It main­tains res­i­dents re­ceive ad­e­quate care un­der the cur­rent ar­range­ment.

‘‘NSW Am­bu­lance is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing Tocumwal has timely ac­cess to para­medic care in the case of a med­i­cal emer­gency,’’ the spokesper­son said.

‘‘Paramedics at nearby Fin­ley Am­bu­lance sta­tion, sup­ported by a NSW Am­bu­lance qual­i­fied Com­mu­nity First Re­spon­der unit in Tocumwal, en­sure an ap­pro­pri­ate level of cov­er­age is pro­vided to the area.

‘‘The 2017 state bud­get in­cluded an an­nounce­ment of $7.5 mil­lion for 50 ad­di­tional re­gional re­lief paramedics, in­clud­ing five in the Mur­rumbidgee Zone.

‘‘As part of the 2016 state bud­get, $12.8 mil­lion funded an ad­di­tional 85 staff — now on the front­line.

‘‘This comes in ad­di­tion to the $5.1 mil­lion in NSW Gov­ern­ment fund­ing pro­vided to fin­ish re­cruit­ing 35 spe­cial­ist paramedics, two years ear­lier than promised at the 2015 state elec­tion.’’

Berrigan Shire gen­eral man­ager Rowan Perkins said coun­cil would sup­port any move to have an am­bu­lance sta­tion es­tab­lished at Tocumwal.

The former Tocumwal Bowls Club site is sit­u­ated op­po­site the Tocumwal Hospi­tal. It is owned by the Tocumwal Lions.

Other sug­ges­tions for the site raised at the com­mu­nity meet­ing in­clude a youth cen­tre or aged care fa­cil­ity.

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