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.