Specialist vehicle not a priority for the Ambos: want a fleet upgrade

AMBULANCE Victoria says it would rather spend money upgrading its existing fleet than purchase a specialist vehicle designed for complex and overweight patients.

There have been renewed calls for a Complex Patient Ambulance Vehicle to be stationed in Ballarat this week following the third incident in two months where a patient was forced to wait hours on the ground until the unit arrived.

Since CPAV units do not exist in Ballarat, they have been called in from Melbourne, Geelong and Bendigo, with some patients forced to wait up to seven hours to be lifted.

Ballarat West MP Sharon Knight also added to the call for such a vehicle in Victorian Parliament yesterday.

However, Ambulance Victoria Grampians regional manager Greg Leach said there was a greater focus on upgrading current equipment, rather than spending $250,000 on a vehicle that was used only about once a month.

In a 15-month time span from July 2011 to October 2012, CPAV units were called 19 times and transported 13 patients in the Grampians region.

“We’d rather change all the fleet than focus on just one piece of equipment,” said Mr Leach.

“The CPAV is an expensive platform that wouldn’t get a lot of use - I’d prefer to spread the $250,000 and cover the region as a whole.”

Mr Leach said the roll-out of new specialist equipment included lifting cushions that could help lift people weighing up to 160 kilograms.

He said there were also plans to upgrade the stretchers with special hydraulic equipment.

“We will always have the need for the specialist platform. If we had one we would use it more often,” said Mr Leach.

“But the Grampians region extends to the South Australian border and we want to equip the entire region as best we can.”

Ms Knight said the latest incidents, one in which 56-year-old Susan Moroney died shortly after a CPAV unit arrived, highlighted the need for the equipment.

“It is important that regions are provided with equitable services and resources, particularly when the need is presented so obviously and so tragically,” she said.

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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