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Ambulance rules need shake up

6 September 2005

Parents' ordeals show ambulance rules need shake up

Two more recent incidents where parents have had to stand in for ambulance officers to get their children safely to hospital highlight yet again the ambulance crewing crisis and the risk it poses to New Zealanders, Sue Kedgley says.

The Green Health Spokesperson heard a number of such stories when she met ambulance officers at an industrial action rally in Palmerston North yesterday. In one case, where a seriously injured 10-year-old boy had been hit by a truck on SH1 near Mangaweka, the ambulance was driven to a rescue chopper by a stressed and inexperienced-in-a-large-vehicle parent. In the other, where a six-year-old girl had a suspected appendicitis, her mother had to monitor her drip in the back as the ambulance travelled from Waiouru to Palmerston North Hospital.

"Ambulance officers estimate that about 40 percent of all ambulances go out on their own without any assistance, with many unable to offer full emergency services as a result," Ms Kedgley says.

"Often they have to wait around for another ambulance to arrive, and ambulance officers on their own are sometimes put at risk from violence and assault.

"This is a shocking and unsafe situation, which is putting the lives of New Zealanders at risk. It is also a clear breach of the National Ambulance Standard, which stipulates that all ambulances providing an emergency response capability shall operate with a minimum of two crew, and that each crew members must have a recognised Ambulance New Zealand qualification."

Ms Kedgley says she pledged to ambulance officers yesterday that she would introduce a Private Members Bill giving legal force to the voluntary National Ambulance Standard, so that it was mandatory for all ambulances to be fully crewed.

"The situation is ridiculous. Ambulance officers are front-line health professionals, and yet there is no mandatory national standard governing them, or enough funding to make full crewing possible.

"Double crewing and ambulance standards must become mandatory, and our ambulance services given enough funding to ensure they can function and safely with properly trained crews," Ms Kedgley says.


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