Police transport patient after Ballarat ambulance services stretched

UNDER PRESSURE: BALLARAT police forced to transport a patient after an ambulance shortage last weekend.
UNDER PRESSURE: BALLARAT police forced to transport a patient after an ambulance shortage last weekend.

BALLARAT police were forced to transport a patient with chest pains to hospital due to an ambulance shortage last weekend.

Ambulance services were cut to just three units on the Saturday night/Sunday morning shift, after members of two units called in sick.

In one incident, police responded to a report of a brawl at a sports club on Gregory Street, Wendouree where they used capsicum spray after verbal commands from officers were ignored.

A 45-year-old man with a pre-existing heart condition received treatment to his eyes and requested an ambulance due to chest pains.

The man was transported to Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital by police after Ambulance Victoria advised no units were available.

In other examples of how stretched paramedics were on that night, a Daylesford unit attended an Alfredton address after a person was knocked unconscious, while a unit from Ballan responded to a Ballarat East incident when a person suffered concussion.

Ambulance Victoria Grampians regional manager Greg Leach said efforts to fill last weekend's shifts were unsuccessful.

"From time to time, paramedics are unable to attend work at short notice like everyone else in the community," Mr Leach said.

"When this happens, we try to recall paramedics to increase our coverage in the area.

"Despite our best efforts, unfortunately, our recalls for these two shifts were unsuccessful.

"We are keen to introduce a rural relieving model to regional Victoria to ensure we have sufficient staff available when paramedics call in sick like on Saturday night. We already have a reserve model operating in metropolitan Melbourne to enhance our service to the community."

Ambulance Employees Union secretary Steve McGhie said the incidents highlighted a lack of ambulance resources for the Ballarat region.

"They have to employ more paramedics and ambulances in the Ballarat area to allow for any type of peak in demand," Mr McGhie said.

"If they say it's because of sickness or absence they clearly don't have a big enough pool of staff to fill the vacancies."