Gee this doesn't add up: confusion reigns over ambulance response times

AN argument over ambulance response times is central to a disagreement between member for Orange Andrew Gee and Orange City Council.

A day after council launched a petition for more paramedics in the city, Mr Gee devoted his column in the Central Western Daily to opposing the case, saying statistics provided by the Ambulance Service of NSW showed Orange was adequately covered and council should have met with the ambulance service to get their side of the story.

Councillor Glen Taylor said Mr Gee needed to get his facts straight.

“The fact council already met with the ambulance service in August last year shows how he is not over the facts surrounding this issue,” he said.

Cr Taylor said data he had collected from the community, and his own experience, showed response times were too long, due to a paramedic shortage.

The Ambulance Service of NSW maintains call out times in Orange meet required benchmarks.

But Cr Taylor said the Ambulance Service of NSW was using semantics when it pushed its case on response times.

“They are mincing words,” he said.

“The allocated response times is the time the call is received and is allocated to a particular ambulance and that’s the figure they keep quoting.

“What they should be telling us is the figures for the operational response classification, which is the time the emergency call is received to the time the paramedics arrive.”

Central West Community Union Alliance represesentative Bernard Fitzsimons says the union wants more transparency over response times.

“When the public is coming to our union telling us there are long waits, with ambulances coming in from other places to cover Orange and our ambulances going to other areas to provide cover, how can the response times possibly add up?” he said.

Cr Taylor said Mr Gee and the state government were not factoring into their case the changing demographic of paramedics working in Orange and district.

“Any day of the week you will see an ambulance here from another area such as Parkes or Forbes, Molong or Blayney, and what happens to their communities?” he asked.

“Emergency departments in all the smaller places like Molong and Blayney are closed so there is much more pressure on ambulances to provide a service to surrounding towns and villages.

“As far as I’m concerned it is like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.”

* People wishing to tell the Central Western Daily about their experience with the Ambulance Service of NSW should email janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au or call 6391 2 915.

* People who would like to sign the petition can call in to the Central Western Daily or any Orange City Council-run facility in the city.

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