A SECOND Ballarat patient has died after waiting for a specialist ambulance unit to be dispatched from Melbourne.
Ballarat man David Harrison died in hospital yesterday after he was forced to wait more than two hours for the Complex Patient Ambulance Vehicle to arrive from Melbourne, the fourth time a CPAV was required in the past three months.
Mr Harrison – weighing 180 kilograms – suffered a heart attack early on Wednesday morning, with ambulance crews and MICA paramedics unable to transport him because of his weight.
Two of the specialist units are located in Melbourne, with one each in Bendigo, Maffra and Geelong.
His death from heart failure yesterday has renewed calls for a CPAV unit to be stationed in Ballarat, with Wendouree woman Susan Moroney dying in October after waiting almost seven hours for a CPAV unit to arrive from suburban Melbourne.
Mr Harrison’s sister Annette Harrison said the family was “shattered” and believed David might have survived if he reached hospital earlier.
“It makes no sense to me that they don’t have one of these ambulance units in every large city, especially given that there have already been four other incidents of people needing help,” she said.
“If they had the equipment they needed for David, I think there is a chance he would still be here today.”
Ms Harrison said the family planned to lobby the state government for more CPAV vehicles to be stationed in regional cities including Ballarat.
Opposition health spokesman Wade Noonan said he had received an interim response from the Victorian Coroner after calling for an investigation into Mrs Moroney’s death. He said Mr Harrison’s death should be included in any investigation.
“The Baillieu government has been in power for two years now and have not added a single unit to the CPAV fleet,” he said.
Ambulance Employees Association Victoria secretary Steve McGhie said existing units in Bendigo and Geelong were required to service a large section of the state and more staff needed to be trained to operate CPAV units.
“This is a crisis and it is not good enough to blame others or walk away from responsibility,” he said.
“People are dying.”
Asked if a CPAV unit would be provided for Ballarat, a spokesperson for Health Minister David Davis said the government was committed to expanding ambulance services in country Victoria.
“Ambulance Victoria is continually working towards improving the transport of complex patients,” the spokesperson said.
“Other lifting equipment, including additional stair chairs are also being implemented across the state.”