Look­ing for­ward to Triple 000 in­quiry

Mansfield Courier - - OPINIONS/PEOPLE -

WE read with con­cern and a sense of déjà-vu your front page report about the un­ac­cept­able de­lay by the am­bu­lance service in at­tend­ing to a se­ri­ous in­jury to an elderly lady within a few hun­dred me­tres of the lo­cal am­bu­lance sta­tion.

At Howqua Hills, ever since the am­bu­lance dis­patch “sys­tem” was changed from lo­cal (Wan­garatta) some years ago to a cen­tralised sys­tem run by ESTA (000) there have been many in­stances of sim­i­lar de­lays and un­sat­is­fac­tory per­for­mance.

We have no crit­i­cism of the lo­cal am­bu­lance of­fi­cers - quite the con­trary, our first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence is that they are al­ways pro­fes­sional and car­ing, and our im­pres­sion is that they are of­ten as frus­trated as us with the poor pro­ce­dures im­posed by the 000 sys­tem.

The most se­ri­ous prob­lem is that 000 will not give a caller an ap­prox­i­mate es­ti­mate of the ar­rival time of an am­bu­lance.

They will not even say whether an am­bu­lance is at­tend­ing from Mans­field or Be­nalla or Euroa.

The time dif­fer­ence, 45 min­utes or 90 min­utes, is vi­tal - and could mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death.

With­out this ba­sic in­for­ma­tion, most call­ers from our area would be bet­ter ad­vised to trans­port the pa­tient to hos­pi­tal them­selves, if they can safely do so.

We have had lengthy, but un­sat­is­fac­tory, cor­re­spon­dence with the Min­is­ter for Health re­gard­ing the in­ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of the 000 sys­tem in coun­try ar­eas like ours.

The min­is­ter does not even recog­nise that there is a se­ri­ous weak­ness in the 000 dis­patch sys­tem.

The Mel­bourne Coroner is soon to con­duct an en­quiry into the deaths re­sult­ing from the “thun­der­storm asthma” event of Novem­ber 2016.

One mat­ter can­vassed will no doubt be why some call­ers to 000 were not told that, on the day, the am­bu­lance sys­tem was se­ri­ously over­loaded, and that the call­ers should trans­port the pa­tient to hos­pi­tal them­selves - not wait for an in­de­ter­mi­nate pe­riod for an am­bu­lance which may not ar­rive at all.

We ea­gerly await the out­come of this en­quiry, but fear that there will be no im­prove­ment un­less the dis­patch sys­tem is changed to recog­nise the im­por­tance of lo­cal knowl­edge and to give call­ers the in­for­ma­tion that they really need. Lind­say In­gram, Sec­re­tary, Howqua Hills Progress


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