News

Better response times the aim

By David Rak

Tony Hubbard believes local ambulance response times are putting lives at risk.

And he is determined to see them improved after being disappointed by an Ambulance Victoria investigation into his wife’s death.

The Seymour resident believes his wife of 55 years would still be alive if an ambulance had not taken more than 45 minutes to arrive at his house.

Mr Hubbard’s wife unexpectedly stopped breathing at their Foley Pl home on October 7.

He immediately called 000 and began CPR while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

After five minutes of CPR Mr Hubbard’s wife began breathing and talking, but after another 20 minutes, she again stopped breathing.

Mr Hubbard said he continued CPR while ambulances came from outside Seymour.

Ambulance Victoria executive director of operational communications Anthony Carlyon said at the time of the Triple Zero call, the Seymour crew was in Melbourne transferring a patient at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

“We dispatched the two nearest available paramedic crews, which drove lights and sirens to the case,” he said.

“These ambulances were dispatched from Wallan and Heathcote, with the Murchison Paramedic Response Unit also sent to provide intensive care paramedic (MICA) support.

“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of our paramedic crews, the patient could not be resuscitated.

“It’s important to understand that despite the proximity of a case to an ambulance branch, our paramedics are often out on cases or at hospitals and respond to emergencies wherever they are, not only from their home branch.

“We have stayed in close contact with the patient’s family and have met them twice to discuss our findings and apologise for the long response time.

“We believe we did everything we could with the workloads our paramedics had on the night. Like with all calls for assistance, we send our nearest available paramedics to our sickest patients, which happened in this case.”

In a statement, Ambulance Victoria said paramedics across Victoria were working to make local communities “heart-safe” by providing CPR training, growing the number of defibrillators that are publicly accessible 24/7, and joining people up to the GoodSAM program.

The GoodSAM program is a mobile phone app that alerts people, via the Triple Zero call centre, when someone nearby is in cardiac arrest so they can start CPR while paramedics are on the way.

The statement said 10 000 Victorians had already signed up to GoodSAM, but Ambulance Victoria aimed to double that number in 2020.

Mr Hubbard was pleased Ambulance Victoria were getting more people CPR trained but said the action did not do anything to improve the response time of paramedics in Seymour or Victoria.

“The lack of ambulance services in Seymour and other country towns means lives will be lost,” he said.

“I’m determined to make sure no one has to go through what I am going through, so I will keep fighting.

“I am working with Member for Northern Victoria Tania Maxwell to get a petition started. Once we get plenty of signatures, we will work to have it tabled in Parliament.

“I want to make sure all Victorians have a paramedic readily available when they need it.

“Waiting 45 minutes for an ambulance is not acceptable and Victorians should not have to put up with it.”

Member for Northern Victoria Tania Maxwell said she had “ongoing concerns” about the resources available to Ambulance Victoria to meet the needs of regional communities.

“I will continue to advocate for improvements to those resources,” she said.

“I was pleased to support Tony Hubbard in meeting with Ambulance Victoria in Seymour.

“I thank Ambulance Victoria for their genuine concern for Tony and the issues he raised, as well as the dedication and commitment Victoria’s paramedics consistently bring to their work.”