Sta­tion ally

Evans to help lobby for Toc. am­bos

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

NSW Mem­ber for Mur­ray Austin Evans has con­ceded gain­ing a ded­i­cated Am­bu­lance NSW sta­tion in Tocumwal will be ‘‘dif­fi­cult’’, but he said he is pre­pared for the chal­lenge.

Dur­ing a re­cent visit to the South­ern Rive­rina — his first since be­ing elected to the role in Oc­to­ber — Mr Evans vowed to help the lo­cal com­mu­nity lobby for the sta­tion.

He said it was one of the is­sues raised dur­ing a meet­ing with Ber­ri­gan Shire Coun­cil.

‘‘Ber­ri­gan Shire doesn’t have it as a high pri­or­ity, but it is cer­tainly some­thing that I will be con­sid­er­ing,’’ Mr Evans said.

‘‘The best thing my­self and coun­cil can do is ap­proach Am­bu­lance NSW to lobby for a sta­tion.

‘‘Ac­cord­ing to the 2016 cen­sus fig­ures the pop­u­la­tion of Tocumwal was over 2700, how­ever it’s es­ti­mated that num­ber dou­bles dur­ing the sum­mer months at peak tourist times.

‘‘That’s the big­gest thing we’ll ap­proach Am­bu­lance NSW with; the fact that dur­ing sum­mer there are over 5000 peo­ple in the one spot.

‘‘Tocumwal is also a hotspot for recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties, wa­ter­sports, glid­ing and the aero­drome, plus you can in­clude Straw­berry Fields as another big rea­son (we need an am­bu­lance sta­tion in the town).

‘‘On top of that Fire & Res­cue NSW are re­quired to act as first re­spon­ders and it’s too much pres­sure on them.’’

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.

On the Tocumwal com­mu­nity’s wish list for a num­ber of years, a new push for a ded­i­cated am­bu­lance sta­tion in the town was in­sti­gated in late Septem­ber.

It was raised at a public meet­ing re­gard­ing the fu­ture use of the former Tocumwal Bowl­ing Club build­ing.

At that meet­ing, Mur­ray Haynes said as the big­gest ex­pand­ing town in the shire, it was ‘‘about time’’ Tocumwal had its own am­bu­lance sta­tion and paramedics.

He said re­ly­ing on a ser­vice lo­cated out­side the town was con­cern­ing, and ques­tioned how first re­spon­ders would be able to re­spond to a med­i­cal emer­gency if there was a large fire al­ready burn­ing.

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

Mr Evans said it is this re­sponse time which may make the ef­forts to get a Tocumwal sta­tion more dif­fi­cult.

He said sim­i­lar rea­sons have been used to deny a ded­i­cated sta­tion in Dar­ling­ton Point, an area he served as former Mur­rumbidgee Shire mayor.

‘‘If you look at Dar­ling­ton Point, is has a pop­u­la­tion that could war­rant a sta­tion, how­ever be­cause it’s close to Grif­fith and Coleam­bally, which both have an am­bu­lance sta­tions; it’s viewed that there’s no point,’’ Mr Evans said.

‘‘With Tocumwal be­ing so close to Fin­ley, Am­bu­lance NSW doesn’t see Tocumwal as a high pri­or­ity to dis­trib­ute re­sources.’’

Tocumwal Cham­ber of Com­merce and Tourism pres­i­dent Ser­gio Rede­galli said there is con­cern across the re­gion that a Tocumwal am­bu­lance sta­tion would re­place another in the re­gion, but he said it should com­ple­ment the vi­tal ser­vice pro­vided lo­cally.

‘‘We’re not try­ing to say to Fin­ley and Ber­ri­gan that if we re­ceive a sta­tion then you’ll lose your sta­tion,’’ Mr Rede­galli said.

‘‘This is­sue has be­ing go­ing on for too long now, and we won’t stop un­til we get a sta­tion.’’

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