Ballarat ambulance shortage claims to be investigated

By Meg Rayner
Updated November 2 2012 - 2:44am, first published March 29 2010 - 1:42am
Ballarat ambulance shortage claims to be investigated

A BABY was born on a bathroom floor, a woman waited in agony and another person ended up dying.These are three cases in Ballarat where ambulances were delayed, illustrating the current poor state of Ambulance Victoria.Yesterday The Courier revealed paramedic shortages and emergency response times were affecting the level of service in Ballarat.The Ballarat, Ballarat MICA, Sebastopol and Wendouree branches all face high case loads, limited resources, absenteeism and large geographic areas to service.A Sebastopol resident contacted The Courier yesterday and said less than two weeks ago his wife was forced to deliver their son on their bathroom floor.Earlier that evening the couple had been sent home from hospital after they were told the labour was not far enough progressed.But at 1.45am she felt the urge to push and the man delivered his own son."Before we could do anything she said, `I think the baby's coming', and it was half out,'' he said.They called an ambulance but were told none were available so they sat waiting for almost 30 minutes, holding their newborn son, thankful it had been an incident-free birth.Judith Buchanan from Sebastopol wrote to The Courier last week after no ambulances were available to take her to hospital, despite crippling pain from her sciatica.And another person commented on The Courier's website that a 20-minute wait for an ambulance resulted in death."About 4 years ago I phoned the ambulance for someone in Sebastopol and it took 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive,'' they wrote."This person ended up in the cardiac ward and died the next day.''Opposition health spokesman David Davis said the government's inaction was putting the lives of patients at risk."Patients in Ballarat and the surrounding region deserve a rapid response from the ambulance service in times of crisis, not broken promises from John Brumby who is putting lives at risk by failing to fix the problem,'' he said.Ballarat East MLA Geoff Howard said he was following up why Ballarat residents were being subjected to long wait times after calling for an ambulance."I am certainly keen to gain explanations to understand what the staffing situation is in Ballarat and if there is a problem, whether it is a short-term problem," he said.