Despite promises from the Labor-Greens government more than two years ago to increase the number of paramedics and ambulances it has been reported a fire truck was used to respond to a priority one call on Saturday night due to a shortage of paramedics.
Shadow Minister for Emergency Services James Milligan said the Minister must make good on the promise to get more staff on the ground.
“It is unacceptable in this day and age that firefighters should be used to respond to medical emergencies, other than to support the work of their ambulance colleagues,” Mr Milligan said.
“This speaks to another government failure and another broken promise.
“Two years ago, the Minister promised more staff on the ground for ambulance and fire and emergency services.
"There were to be another 99 staff employed. Yet to date, we have only seen another 36.
“It isn’t good enough to blame Covid any longer. We are aware that this situation continues, however, we have lived with the virus for the last two years and Canberrans could reasonably expect that there would be enough paramedics on the ground to fully staff all ambulances.
“I understand that there are two levels of crewing, the minimum level required to respond to the needs of the ACT community, and a relief crew. But on Saturday night, neither were at full complement. Leaving the only option for the fire fighters to respond.”
Mr Milligan said It is good to know that firefighters are trained to respond to medical emergencies, though as Greg McConville, the Secretary of the United Firefighters Union, told ABC radio this morning, they can only do the minimum.
“Firefighters are trained to give assistance to the ambulance services but its limited to first aid, CPR, advanced resuscitation and of course, assisting with difficult patient transports.
“That they were then used to respond to a priority one is unacceptable. What is the government spending their money on, if not on more frontline staff.
“We call on the government to make this a priority, to get more crew on the ground. It is yet another sign of their complacency. The ACT people deserve better from this government,” Mr Milligan concluded.