Specialised ambulance needed in Ballarat after death

ON September 8 this year, Wendouree woman Susan Moroney made a plea for a specialised ambulance – capable of lifting overweight people – to be permanently based in Ballarat.

Less than two months later, Ms Moroney died waiting seven hours for that very vehicle.

Yesterday, the State Coroner was asked to investigate the death of Ms Moroney, a mother of four.

On October 31, Ms Moroney, 56, died at her home while waiting for a complex patient ambulance vehicle – CPAV – to arrive from Bendigo, the nearest location of such a specialty vehicle.

Because of her 160kg-plus size, the specialised lifting machine ambulance – of which there are only five in Victoria, two in Melbourne and one each in Bendigo, Geelong and the Gippsland township of Maffra – was needed.

But it took seven hours for that specialised vehicle to arrive from Bendigo, only 90 minutes away.

It is understood the initial call for an ambulance was made at 11am on October 31. A call was made to Bendigo, which accommodated the nearest CPAV ambulance.

However, it did not arrive until 5.50pm. Ms Moroney was pronounced dead at 7.15pm.

The coroner is now being asked to investigate why it took seven hours for this specialty vehicle to arrive.

This case has the potential to have statewide ramifications. With the growing rate of obesity in not only Ballarat, not across the nation, the prompt availability of such specialty lifting machines is paramount.

ALP’s parliamentary secretary for health, Wade Noonan, has written to the coroner asking that Ms Moroney’s death be investigated.

“I have taken the extraordinary step of writing to the coroner seeking an examination into the circumstances of Mrs Moroney’s death,” Mr Noonan said yesterday.

Ballarat West MP Sharon Knight has joined the call for the CPAV, saying: “There’s no doubt that we need an ambulance based in Ballarat that can assist more complex patients”.

But Ms Moroney’s death came less than two months after she called for such a service to be made available to Ballarat.

During an interview which appeared in The Courier on September 9, Ms Moroney said: “I just think there is a population here in Ballarat that are overweight or obese that needs this equipment,” she said.

On the afternoon of September 3 this year, Ms Moroney waited five hours for a CPAV to arrive from Geelong after she fell at her home.

After her story was made public in The Courier days later, Ambulance Victoria acting regional manager Grant Hocking said new lifting equipment would soon be installed in regular ambulance vehicles.

However, the arrival of these vehicles will be too late to save Ms Moroney.

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