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Ambulance Service Recommended
Thursday, 30 October 2008

Ambulance parked at Bundeena
A NSW Parliamentary report has vindicated concerns of residents by reccommeding a dedicated ambulance service be based in Bundeena.

The 150 plus page report was the result of an in depth review of Ambulance Services NSW covering areas including staffing, workplace culture, occupational health & safety as well as management practices. The report also covered concerns which have been raised by the Bundeena Maianbar Ambulance Action Group such as on-call rostering, fatigue management and response times.

The report made special mention of only three geographical regions which were Syndey, Nelson Bay and Bundeena. The Bundeena section of the report (pages 143-144) is reprinted below.


Bundeena

  • 8.93 Bundeena is a village on the outskirts of southern Sydney with approximately 2500 residents.Concerns were raised in evidence regarding the lack of an ambulance station in Bundeena and the surrounding areas of Maianbar and the Royal National Park.648 The issue was highlighted in the media by Dr Tamsin Clarke from the Bundeena/Maianbar Ambulance Action Group, who proclaimed: ‘[T]here have been some cases where people have almost died while waiting for an ambulance’.
  • 8.94 In her submission to the Inquiry, Dr Clarke informed the Committee:      For the last 15 years ambulance officers residing in Bundeena have been asked by the Service to agree to be on call between shifts and on their days off in order to provide (when they are not working their normal shifts) a rapid response to medical emergencies in the Bundeena/Maianbar/Royal National Park area.
  •  8.95 Until May 2008, the three ambulance officers that resided in the area were provided with an ambulance to take home so that they could provide on-call services to the community. During this time, Bundeena had a dedicated ambulance vehicle that remained in the area. This changed in May when the Service issued a directive for the ambulance to be returned to Engadine station at the end of each on-call period. This proved logistically difficult for the ambulance officers in Bundeena, who then had to coordinate the use of one ambulance between three officers. Additionally, a significant period of their rest time was taken up by driving the ambulance back and forth from Engadine station.
  • 8.96 As a result, the officers have had to withdraw their on-call services ‘because they could not cope with the organisational and fatigue problems arising from being on call without proper management organisation or structural support’.652 Bundeena now has had no dedicated ambulance service or personnel.
  • 8.97 In the Ambulance Service’s opinion, the current workload of approximately 150-200 cases per year in Bundeena and Maianbar is insufficient to support a full time ambulance presence. Ambulance cover for Bundeena and Maianbar is provided from Caringbah and Engadine stations.
  • 8.98 The Service’s solution to the problem is for the NSW Fire Brigades to send firefighters to medical emergencies in the area as ‘Community First Responders’, who provide clinical intervention for patients while the nearest ambulance is dispatched to the scene.
  • 8.99 One of the ambulance officers from Bundeena argued that this is not an adequate solution as the Fire Brigades ‘will not be able to fulfill either of the two main functions of an ambulance service which are: on the spot treatment and patient transport’.
  •  8.100 Dr Clarke states that the current system takes a minimum of 30 minutes response time and the time from the incident to hospital can easily be more than an hour. This is well outside the Service’s targets. Dr Clarke argued that urgent action is required as the previous situation became unworkable, and the current one is substantially worse

Committee comment

  • 8.101 The Committee acknowledges the dedication and efforts of the three on-call ambulance officers and supports their decision to discontinue the now untenable practice of being on-call between their usual shifts and on their days off.
  • 8.102 As mentioned in chapter 1, the Committee received a petition with 112 signatures seeking the establishment of an ambulance service in Bundeena; either consisting of a car stationed with 24 hour rostered cover, or an ambulance station itself.
  • 8.103 This community of 2500 residents is clearly disadvantaged. We believe that an ambulance service in Bundeena is required to provide necessary medical emergency services to the area.

Recommendation 37

That the Ambulance Service of NSW provide a dedicated ambulance service in Bundeena, consisting of an ambulance station or a car stationed with 24 hour rostered cover.


The covering letter that accompanied the report stated "We are not prepared to have this report swept under the rug. For this reason, in October 2009 we will institute a review of the recommendations of this report". Whether this will be enough impetus for the current State government to act remains to be seen.

View the Ambulance-Review-FINAL-REPORT.pdf full report and Ambulance-Review-Media-Release-2008-10-20.pdf covering letter.

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To cast your vote in our ambulance services survery click here

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Select Poll: 

Ambulance Services Poll
Ambulance services in Bundeena Maianbar are acceptable?
   Agree
17   29.31%
   Disagree
41   70.69%
An ambulance station (shared or dedicated building) should be based in Bundeena?
   Disagree
16   27.59%
   Agree
42   72.41%
Ambulance Service NSW should make special rostering arrangements to service Bundeena Maianbar?
   Disagree
16   27.59%
   Agree
42   72.41%

Number of Voters  : 58


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