Paramedic shortage can’t be tolerated

By Rod Case, Editor
Updated November 7 2012 - 3:59am, first published February 14 2011 - 10:50am

State Ambulance Union claims of a chronic shortage of paramedics in regional cities is concerning for this community.It’s imperative a community has faith in its ambulance service and such claims begin to erode that belief.Community members have every right to expect that should they need an ambulance, one will answer the call. Sadly, it appears that isn’t always the case.The ambulance union has raised two examples in Bendigo to assist its case.The first involved a 20-year-old man having a seizure, with no ambulance available to attend him. The second saw a family that phoned for an ambulance in the evening forced to wait until the early hours of the morning for help to arrive.Paramedics do a wonderful job in trying to cope with the pressures they work under.But they can only do their job to the best of their ability with the full support of Ambulance Victoria and the state government.No community should accept night shifts being cancelled or rural branches being left unmanned.Clearly the state government’s pledge to find 340 extra paramedics over four years is a step in the right direction, but if we are to believe the State Ambulance Union figures that 150 paramedics leave the industry every year then it’s not a solution.Ambulance Victoria and the state government must look at ways of retaining paramedics while training new ones and start convincing communities they are committed to fixing this issue properly.