Injured CFA firefighters left stranded in bushfire zone in wait for paramedics

Injured CFA firefighters left stranded in bushfire zone in wait for paramedics

13 February 2013

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Australia — INJURED firefighters had to wait an hour and 45 minutes for paramedics after their truck rolled over in a bushfire zone, amid claims of short-staffing at regional ambulance stations.

When paramedics reached the five firefighters in Dargo on Sunday night, a helicopter was called in to fly out a CFA volunteer with a dislocated shoulder.

Ambulance Victoria confirmed it took longer than expected to reach the injured CFA crew, but it blamed the isolated location of the incident and “winding roads in smoky conditions”.

The ambulance union and the state Opposition claim the delay occurred because the closest station at Bairnsdale had been left without a night-shift crew, forcing a part-time crew from Paynesville to travel a further 30 minutes to respond to the Code 1 emergency.

It is believed that when the Paynesville ambulance arrived it carried only one full-time paramedic and a community volunteer assistant.

“Clearly an hour and three-quarters for something like this is unacceptable,” Ambulance Employees Australia state secretary Steve McGhie said.

“They had potentially five injured in a truck rollover and were very fortunate they were not facing five time-critical patients – with one ambulance paramedic and a community officer.

“If that is acceptable, it is a sad state of affairs.”

Ambulance Victoria regional manager Mick Stephenson said a road ambulance and helicopter were dispatched while a paramedic in a bushfire incident control centre liaised with colleagues of the injured man, whom they had taken to a local primary school to rendezvous with paramedics.

“Our road ambulance negotiated dark, winding roads in smoky conditions to reach the man and he was treated at the scene before being conveyed to a cricket oval to meet the helicopter,” Mr Stephenson said.

“He was flown to Latrobe Regional Hospital in a stable condition.”


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