By David Claridge and Liz Douglass
AMBULANCE VOLUNTEERS have stood up for themselves and are calling for a review into potential negative consequences of the state government plans to make Deloraine a double branch station.
Three additional paramedics and an upgrade to the station would be part of the $125 million boost investment proposed by the government.
Deloraine Ambulance station spokesman, Jamie Davis, believes that the community will suffer when the improved ambulance service will still be regularly spending more hours in Launceston or Devonport.
‘Volunteers aren’t working in the communities they joined up to help. ‘We think the new paramedics would be better suited in the cities, but the money ‘must’ be allocated to the region.’
Labor Leader Rebecca White held a recent media conference at the Deloraine station to ask the volunteers about the proposed boost.
‘Volunteers are worried that they will end up sent to cases across the North of the state which will leave them fatigued and unable to function effectively at their normal occupation. Even worse, it will leave their community without a local ambulance to respond to emergencies.
‘Already this year the Deloraine ambulance has been sent to cover jobs in Launceston and Devonport on multiple occasions due to chronic ambulance ramping at the hospital. Each time this happens, the Deloraine community is left without a local ambulance response.’
A recent community meeting in Deloraine was chaired by Ambulance volunteer Nicole Rubenach and attended by concerned residents, local councillors, Liberal member for Lyons, John Tucker and Labor leader, Rebecca White.
Nicole emphasised that the proposed station upgrades would not automatically double the coverage for Deloraine if the local service continued to be diverted to urban areas.
The Health Minister Sarah Courtney was unable to attend so Mr Tucker agreed to relay local concerns to her. His suggestion that additional services had made improvements in the Break O’Day municipality were met with a forceful counter-argument that Deloraine circumstances were somewhat different.
Ambulance volunteer experiences in some areas close to Hobart (such as New Norfolk) are similar, with diversions to cover urban shortfalls. Deloraine volunteers are also concerned that covering remote areas such as the Great Lakes and Cradle Mountain already spreads local ambulance services thinly.
Many volunteers feel that their commitment to their local community is being exploited to cover inadequate urban emergency services. The years of experience, knowledge and dedication from local volunteers is something that the local community can ill afford to lose.