By Michael Giles

THIS is not an ambo bashing exercise.
Unlike nuclear energy or increasing the GST which we’re not allowed to even talk about…
We should be able to have an intelligent conversation about the state of health and ambulance services in the local area without being accused of attacking the paramedics themselves.
Because the truth of it is they do an amazing job.
We’ve been to enough highway collisions and other emergency response events to know how calmly, professionally and skilfully they take control of a potentially chaotic situation to bring order, pain relief and ultimately hope, where that’s possible.
Their range of skills, expanded in recent years to include heart attack, stroke and asthma treatment, to name a few, and their clinical approach to triaging patients for the best outcomes is nothing short of superhuman.
And our paramedics need to know they hold a special place in the heart of the community for what they do.
But as one of our Facebook posters said this week:
“Doesn’t matter how much funding is thrown at the ambulance service, you still can’t pull an ambulance, fully equipped out of thin air, if all ambulances are busy. And what about the other patients that were being seen to, don’t they deserve to have the response times they need?”
That’s true.
So even if we are being properly funded for ambulance services in this area, and the rostering and coverage arrangements that are in place are appropriate, there may be times when patients are left waiting.
What we need to be able to do, and Ambulance Victoria needs to understand this, is ask the question, just as Mark Holmes has done this week, about what happened when an ambulance is late, or there’s some other problem.
If there isn’t a problem, then good.
If the problem is instead a lack of health funding for a higher level of services at our hospitals, that the government is letting us down here, then the community is entitled to ask the questions and hear the facts.
Because we know from experience that South Gippsland and Bass Coast has often been ignored for even basic requirements, and the state of the Wonthaggi Secondary College, the lack of services at the Wonthaggi hospital, mental health services and visitor infrastructure on Phillip Island are case in point.
Can we be happy with ambulance services in this area? Generally yes (see Ambulance Victoria response this week) but to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the price of good government services is eternal vigilance.