IF you live in Molong and have a heart attack at the weekend you could find yourself in the back of an ambulance being driven to hospital by a relative due to paramedic shortages.
“If you have a heart attack on a Saturday or a Sunday here when there is one paramedic on you are probably going to die because we just don’t have enough paramedics rostered on,” Molong resident Len Leahey said.
Mr Leahey is speaking out after a friend had to drive an ambulance to hospital while the man’s wife was being treated in the back by the only paramedic on duty at the time.
“I just don’t think it’s good enough and it's time Cabonne Council stepped up to the mark like Orange has just done to make their point about not having enough paramedics,” he said.
Health Services Union paramedic representative Ian Spurway said in his experience it was not unusual for police, fire rescue officers or members of the public to drive an ambulance while a patient is being treated in the back on the way to hospital. He said Mr Leahey’s comments were typical of what happened in smaller communities close to Orange.
“I had this happen recently myself when I was on a call on my own and the police had to drive the ambulance for me,” he said.
“It is not uncommon nowadays for us [paramedics] to ask members of the public to help out by driving an ambulance.
“This used to be the case many years ago and things did get better in terms of rostering but now we are back to the old days.”
One Orange resident who formerly lived in Molong said the situation was the same in the town 12 years ago.
“Our son had a very serious bike accident while I was at work,” he said.
“He was losing a lot of blood and had other injuries and there was only one ambulance person. So my wife had to get in the front of the ambulance and drive. It was a very traumatic time for us all.”
Cabonne councillor Ian Gosper said he was aware of paramedic numbers in Molong and district.
“I do know that in Manildra recently one of their first responders had to drive the ambulance,” he said.
“I am fully supportive of us [Cabonne Council] trying to work to get more paramedics just the way Orange City Council has come in to the debate.”
l Member for Orange Andrew Gee says he is waiting to hear from Orange City Council who are looking to broker a meeting on paramedic numbers in Orange.
Mr Gee said he had been contacted by a Health Services Union representative and a meeting had been arranged for the union to put its case for more paramedics in Orange.