180kg man waits hours for CPAV unit

A PATIENT weighing 180 kilograms in a potentially life-threatening situation was forced to wait more than two hours for specialist ambulance equipment to arrive from Melbourne, the fourth incident of its kind in three months.

Paramedics were called to attend the case of an obese Sebastopol man, who was in an unresponsive state, just after 6am on Wednesday.

The first ambulance unit arrived at 6.14am, followed by  MICA paramedics at 6.30am.

After determining the man was too big for transport, a Complex Patient Ambulance Vehicle was called, which had to come from Box Hill.

The CFA was also called to help lift him.

A doctor was requested from the Ballarat Base Hospital due to the serious condition of the patient, but was unable to attend.

There is no CPAV unit in Ballarat, but there are two located in Melbourne, and one each in Bendigo and Geelong. The patient eventually arrived at the hospital about 9.35am – more than two hours after the call was made.

In October, Wendouree woman Susan Moroney died after waiting almost seven hours for a CPAV unit to arrive, less than two months after she had made a public call for the equipment to be allocated to Ballarat.

Ambulance Employees Association Victoria secretary Steve McGhie said this week’s incident again highlighted the need for Ballarat to have such a vehicle.

“This patient was a time critical patient that should have been in hospital two hours earlier,” he said.

“This is the fourth case in three months and they aren’t going to disappear.

“They are only going to get worse.”

Labor’s health spokesman Wade Noonan, who wrote to the Coroner to investigate Mrs Moroney’s death, called on the government to fund the units immediately.

“This situation is turning into a crisis,” he said.

“It’s time the Baillieu government did something about this problem. Blaming others or making excuses is simply unacceptable.

“The time to act is now.” 

Ballarat West MP Sharon Knight said it was not fair that Ballarat residents did not have the same services as those living in Bendigo and Geelong.

Ambulance Victoria Grampians regional manager Greg Leach said paramedics showed a high level of care while waiting for the CPAV unit to arrive and that they acted appropriately.

“Ambulance Victoria is continually working towards improving how we manage the handling of such patients,” he said.

A spokesperson for Health Minister David Davis blamed the previous Labor government for not funding the units.

“AEAV had 11 years to convince the former Labor government to resource regional Victoria with CPAV vehicles and failed to do so,” said the spokesperson.

“Vehicle selection, purchase and upgrades are an operational matter for AV.”

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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