Woman waits on floor nearly seven hours for ambulance

A woman who weighed more than 150 kilograms was forced to wait on the ground for almost seven hours for paramedics to arrive with specialised equipment, less than a month after another woman died while waiting to be transported.

The Sebastopol woman, 47, called for an ambulance about 2.20am yesterday after she had fallen with a fractured leg.

She was too heavy to lift, so a Complex Patient Ambulance Vehicle was called to help lift her and transport her to hospital.

A CPAV unit does not exist in Ballarat, so one was called from Mount Waverley because others from Bendigo and Geelong were unavailable. 

It arrived just before 9am yesterday, almost seven hours since the first call was made.

Emergency paramedics were in touch with the patient throughout her wait.

Labor’s health spokesman Wade Noonan earlier this month wrote to the State Coroner after Wendouree woman Susan Moroney died while waiting almost seven hours for a CPAV unit to arrive.

Mr Noonan said he would again write to the coroner to reiterate the need for the specialised medical equipment and highlight the shortfall in Ballarat.

“How many people have to go through this before we get the commitment from the government for a CPAV vehicle in Ballarat?” he said.

“It highlights the need in Ballarat for a CPAV vehicle to be located in Ballarat. There is an obvious gap in the system,” he said.

On October 31, Wendouree woman Susan Moroney, 56, died at her home while she waited for a CPAV unit. Two months earlier she had called for Ambulance Victoria to equip Ballarat with its own unit.

Ambulance Employees Association secretary Steve McGhie said it was unfair on paramedics and their patients that the equipment was unavailable.

He said that even when the equipment was available, staff had to be called in to use it.

“The volume of these cases are becoming more and more prevalent with the way society is these days, “ he said. “It’s certainly not good enough.”

Ambulance Victoria regional manager Grampians Greg Leach said each vehicle required two trained operators, as well as emergency paramedics.

“Our preliminary review of this case indicates that the crews provided a very high level of care to the patient,” he said.

“They took appropriate action in not attempting to move the patient without the necessary equipment.”

Ballarat West MP Sharon Knight said similar instances were going to become more common and needed to be addressed immediately.

“If an ambulance needs to travel from the other side of Melbourne to assist someone in Ballarat there is a real problem,” she said.

There are CPAV units in Bendigo, Geelong, Maffra and two in Melbourne.

The office of Health Minister David Davis did not respond to inquires by The Courier prior to deadline.

patrick.nolan@thecourier.com.au

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