Questions about an anxious 39-minute wait for an ambulance at a Narooma football match at the weekend have triggered a union call for more paramedics on the Far South Coast.
Eden’s Lucie Elton suffered a suspected neck injury during the second half of the Group 16 All-Stars women’s match; she has since been cleared of serious harm.
Some spectators questioned why the delay was so long, as there was an ambulance parked at the nearby Narooma station.
Elton was left on her stomach as trainers, fearing further injury, were unwilling to move her.
A NSW Ambulance spokesperson explained the Narooma ambulance station was fully staffed on Saturday.
“On March 10, NSW Ambulance received a triple zero (000) call at 3.28pm for a patient at Bill Smyth Oval in Narooma,” they said.
“The closest available transport paramedic crew responded and arrived on scene at 4.07pm.
“At the time of the call, Narooma ambulance station was fully rostered with two paramedic crews.
“While an extra ambulance vehicle was parked at Narooma, both paramedic crews were responding in other ambulance vehicles to other incidents, in Moruya and Eden.”
Health Services Union delegate Mick Grayson confirmed Narooma was fully staffed. There were also crews at Bermagui and Eden, and one-and-a-half crews at both Bega and Merimbula.
However, Mr Grayson said the whole Far South Coast was routinely under resourced.
“The workload across the whole Far South Coast from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border often outstrips the resources we have,” he said.
“Paramedics have been calling for additional resources for a number of years now, and have been looking for the government to respond.”
One of the main problems facing paramedics is long transport trips between our local hospitals (Batemans Bay, Moruya, and Bega) and Canberra hospitals.
“Overnight we have a lot of long-distance transports out of the area, because the hospitals are unable to keep and manage unwell people,” Mr Grayson said.
“That means we lose resources out of the area on a daily basis, which impacts on our ability to respond throughout the day and night.”
Mr Grayson said it was rare for a Narooma crew to attend a job in Eden, but offered a possible explanation.
“The Narooma crew possibly have taken a patient from Moruya to Bega as a transfer, and once they were there they were probably the closest crew at the time,” he said.
“It’s part of those long distance transports impacting on us. We take resources from one town, and send them somewhere else.
“The community deserves to have a proper ambulance service.
“The government is sitting on a large surplus that should be used for essential services such as hospitals, health, and paramedic services.”