WAIT DE­BATE

Southern Riverina news - - FRONT PAGE -

Re­ports of a per­son wait­ing 40 min­utes for an am­bu­lance af­ter col­laps­ing in Tocumwal is just one of the ex­am­ples be­ing col­lated to form an ar­gu­ment for a ded­i­cated am­bu­lance sta­tion in the town.

The SOUTH­ERN RIVERINA NEWS learned of the in­ci­dent this week, and could not ob­tain con­fir­ma­tion from emer­gency ser­vices be­fore go­ing to print.

The re­port has prompted the Am­bu­lance for Tocumwal Steer­ing Com­mit­tee to start col­lect­ing anec­do­tal and hard ev­i­dence on wait times to sup­port claims for a sta­tion to be built in Tocumwal.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Anne Pyle said it in­cludes a yet-to-be an­swered Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest with Am­bu­lance NSW re­quest­ing the sta­tis­tics on wait times.

Ms Pyle said while there are no con­firmed sta­tis­tics yet, she knows this av­enue will be ‘‘key to the cause’’.

The com­mit­tee’s fo­cus is to gather ev­i­dence of cases where peo­ple have waited more than 30 min­utes for an am­bu­lance.

‘‘We don’t have any anec­do­tal ev­i­dence in writ­ing at the mo­ment, but I can hon­estly say I could call five peo­ple who could tell me sto­ries of how they’ve waited for a long time,’’ Ms Pyle said.

‘‘This com­mit­tee was formed by peo­ple who have waited a long time or know fam­ily and friends that have waited a long time for an am­bu­lance to ar­rive.

‘‘We know dur­ing the sum­mer months the pop­u­la­tion in and around Tocumwal jumps to about 8000 peo­ple and we know it’s high time for the town to re­ceive an am­bu­lance.’’

Tocumwal’s Fire and Res­cue NSW bri­gade are trained as first re­spon­ders and can be dis­patched by Am­bu­lance NSW.

Oth­er­wise the clos­est am­bu­lance ser­vices are at Fin­ley (about 15 min­utes away) or Ber­ri­gan (25 min­utes).

Bri­gade Cap­tain Ian De­sailly said the sta­tion over the border at Co­bram is an­other op­tion, but said that op­tion is needed very rarely.

He said he be­lieves the ex­ist­ing lo­cal ser­vices are ad­e­quate in serv­ing the com­mu­nity.

‘‘When the per­son is on the phone to triple zero, Am­bu­lance New South Wales has dis­patched Fin­ley or Ber­ri­gan am­bu­lance ser­vices,’’ Capt De­sailly said.

‘‘Tocumwal Fire and Res­cue must leave the sta­tion on all call outs — both fire and first re­spon­ders — and re­spond as quickly and safely as pos­si­ble.

‘‘If we’re busy on an­other job and Ber­ri­gan and Fin­ley am­bu­lance are busy on an­other job, then an am­bu­lance would be dis­patched from Jer­ilderie and it would take 30 min­utes.

‘‘And if that is busy then they would dis­patch from Co­bram, how­ever in the past four years I would say that has hap­pened maybe three times.

‘‘The Tocumwal Fire and Res­cue has two trucks and can send both to two sep­a­rate jobs if needed.’’

Ber­ri­gan Shire gen­eral man­ager Rowan Perkins said only hard ev­i­dence of long wait times would help the cause for a new sta­tion, say­ing the steer­ing com­mit­tee ‘‘must present its ar­gu­ment on fact and not emo­tion’’.

‘‘Am­bu­lance NSW doesn’t be­lieve there is strong enough de­mand. The level of in­ci­dents is rel­a­tively low and ac­cess is rea­son­ably high be­cause there are first re­spon­ders in Tocumwal and am­bu­lance ser­vices in Fin­ley and Ber­ri­gan.

‘‘Hard fig­ures is what will get a sta­tion over the line. We un­der­stand why they want one but the steer­ing com­mit­tee has to go from ‘want’ to ‘need’.’’

Coun­cil­lor John Bruce has in­vited the steer­ing com­mit­tee to make a for­mal pre­sen­ta­tion to the coun­cil on its aims and ev­i­dence so far.

It was is­sued in re­sponse to Coun­cil­lor Ross Bodey’s re­port the com­mit­tee felt there was a ‘‘lack of sup­port and lack of en­thu­si­asm for their cause’’ from coun­cil.

Ms Pyle con­firmed the steer­ing com­mit­tee would ad­dress coun­cil next month.

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