Two-hour ambulance wait
Ambulance Victoria is reviewing its procedures following Michael McNamara's two hour wait for an ambulance while he suffered a fractured neck and bleeding in his brain.PT0M42S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-35sfi 620 349 March 31, 2014
Michael McNamara cannot remember much about his almost two-hour wait for an ambulance.
After being allegedly assaulted by a group of men at his Lakes Entrance house on the afternoon of March 15, his 24-year-old son picked him up from the ground and carried him to the couch. He had bleeding in his brain, a fractured neck, broken ribs, a fractured eye socket and a broken nose.
''We rang the ambos and it was about two hours before they rocked up,'' his son says.
Michael McNamara who was badly injured when assaulted is angry at ambulance delay. Photo: Paul Jeffers
Police arrived before the ambulance, and cared for Michael, who was vomiting and covered in blood.
The 43-year-old recently returned home wearing a neck brace after spending a week at The Alfred hospital.
''I'm angry. Nobody knew I had bleeding of the brain, a broken neck and broken ribs,'' he said. ''My son saw the whole incident. I have to get him help now.''
The paramedics' union, which is trying to negotiate better pay and conditions with the Napthine government, said the incident was the latest in a string of cases that highlighted the service's inadequacies.
''Michael needed immediate assistance, especially given his airway was potentially compromised by vomiting. An almost two-hour delay to get to Michael is as dangerous as it gets,'' Danny Hill, Victorian assistant secretary of Ambulance Employees Australia said.
Ambulance Victoria team manager for Lakes Entrance Rob Standfield said resourcing in the area was not sufficient.
Documents from the state opposition - based on information provided by the union - detail 29 incidents in the past two weeks that they say illustrate the system is under-resourced and not coping.
According to the document, on March 17, four crews in Ballarat were ramped - forced to queue - for up to two hours while a patient who had overdosed on medications was in an altered conscious state.
In Stawell on March 20, a 65-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest, and a crew from Ararat took 21 minutes to arrive. The patient was unable to be revived.
On March 23, a 13-year-old in Ararat suffered a prolonged seizure, and because there was no ambulance the patient was treated and transported by Ambulance Victoria management in the back of a sedan.
Opposition health spokesman Gavin Jennings said families across Victoria had been let down. ''My heart goes out to any family that has had to suffer because of adverse outcomes from an ambulance's performance.''
Ambulance Victoria general manager regional services Tony Walker said Mr McNamara's case was being reviewed and the ambulance service would offer to meet the patient and his family.
''Based on information about the man's condition provided from the scene, an ambulance was required but it was not time-critical. An ambulance was soon dispatched to this case but diverted to another higher priority case.''
He said a preliminary review indicated two other local ambulances were available, and further investigation would reveal why they were not assigned to this case. He confirmed an ambulance was called to attend the Lakes Entrance house at 4.38pm, but did not arrive until 6.25pm, when the man was taken to hospital in a stable condition.
Ashley Gardiner, a spokesman for Health Minister David Davis, said the Coalition government had exceeded its promise to deliver an extra 310 paramedics, with 465 more on the road since they were elected in 2010.
''In Gippsland, there are 70 more paramedics working, far in excess of the election commitment of 46. This was part of the Coalition's $151 million ambulance budget boost to repair the damage after 11 years of Labor neglect,'' he said.