Sta­tion progress

Am­bu­lance Ser­vice pe­ti­tion to be tabled in Par­lia­ment

Southern Riverina news - - FRONT PAGE - By James Ben­nett

Tocumwal’s ap­peal for an am­bu­lance sta­tion to be built in the town could be heard in NSW Par­lia­ment as early as this month.

A pe­ti­tion signed by more then 2000 peo­ple was de­liv­ered to NSW Min­is­ter for Health Brad Haz­zard last week.

NSW Mem­ber for Mur­ray Austin Evans said he in­tends to speak to the pe­ti­tion in Par­lia­ment at the next sit­ting on Oc­to­ber 16.

He said while the pe­ti­tion does not have enough sig­na­tures to be of­fi­cially de­bated by the Par­lia­ment, the sup­port for the Tocumwal am­bu­lance sta­tion is enough to en­sure the pro­posal is on the gov­ern­ment’s radar.

‘‘The pe­ti­tion needs to get to 10,000 sig­na­tures be­fore it can be of­fi­cially de­bated in Par­lia­ment so that’s still a far hur­dle, but by hav­ing it read in Par­lia­ment it’s still good to have it on the Hansard.

‘‘Be­cause of some is­sues with the word­ing of the pe­ti­tion it has been with­drawn from the min­is­ter (to be fixed), but he’s seen it and is aware of the pe­ti­tion.

‘‘While the min­is­ter can make the call by him­self, it doesn’t hurt that we put it to the min­is­ter be­cause it lets him know what peo­ple in Tocumwal are think­ing.

‘‘The com­mit­tee has writ­ten a num­ber of let­ters and the con­text of their let­ters are be­com­ing more rel­e­vant in re­la­tion to pop­u­la­tion growth, sum­mer tourism and fes­ti­vals.’’

The pe­ti­tion was started at Easter this year by the Am­bu­lance for Tocumwal Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, af­ter the push for a lo­cal sta­tion resur­faced last year.

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.

Com­mit­tee chair Den­nis Sut­ton said the sup­port the ap­peal has re­ceived so far is pos­i­tive.

‘‘It’s great to have the sup­port of the res­i­dents of Tocumwal and we are ex­cited the lo­cal mem­ber is show­ing in­ter­est in hav­ing an am­bu­lance ser­vice in Tocumwal.

‘‘There is a need for it in the town, and I would ex­pect that con­tin­ued sup­port.’’

Mr Evans said it is im­por­tant to ad­dress the need for an am­bu­lance sta­tion in Tocumwal, par­tic­u­larly given the gowing pop­u­la­tion and pend­ing tourism sea­son.

He said the steer­ing com­mit­tee must start to think of hav­ing a tem­po­rary struc­ture to ‘‘get the ball rolling’’.

‘‘We’ve spo­ken with the group about lat­eral think­ing ways of try­ing to get this up and run­ning,’’ he said.

‘‘It might be based on time or a sea­sonal sta­tion, so when the fes­ti­vals are on or at the height of sum­mer, where we can pull help from other sta­tions.

‘‘We can still rely on the first re­spon­ders a fair bit, but be able to say ‘this week­end you can have off and won’t be called out’.

‘‘The good thing is the Tocumwal Lions Club is will­ing to do­nate the land (for a sta­tion), so there is no land pur­chase cost. It might just be find­ing a tem­po­rary home in Tocumwal dur­ing the sum­mer as a so­lu­tion.

‘‘Be­tween Tocumwal’s growth and pop­u­la­tion, plus the num­ber of peo­ple who visit there over sum­mer and for fes­ti­vals, I think it’s war­ranted to have a sta­tion.

‘‘I’ve spo­ken with some for­mer Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice mem­bers and they’ve said they were un­der a lot of pres­sure to also act as first re­spon­ders. The steer­ing com­mit­tee stated in the pe­ti­tion there are peo­ple who will re­join the RFS if they don’t have to be first re­spon­ders.’’

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