Victor Harbor paramedic Deb Wimshurst is frustrated and being pushed to quit a job she loves and one in which she is needed.
Deb said it was time for the state government to invest in the health of the community and time for additional crewing and a new ambulance station in Victor Harbor.
"We were promised a new ambulance station 20 years ago and still nothing has happened. If we were to get a new ambulance, it would not be able to fit in the garage at the current station in Torrens Street," Deb said.
At the Victor Harbor station there are three ambulances, one emergency crew and two regional medical patient transport (RMTS) crews and the station has been at its current location for nearly 50 years.
The health system is under stress, whether it is hospital staff or paramedics and the state government is not listening to the concerns of those on the frontline.
"Yankalilla and Goolwa are made up of volunteers and we provide back up for those stations. It is horrible right now. I have gone part time for nearly a year now and want to go casual to reduce my hours even further" Deb said.
"I cannot cope with another shift. It has become so much, as we have to work up to 14 hours without a break. I am anxious going to work next week, this week.
"If there was an emergency right now, I would be there in a heartbeat, but I can no longer cope with a shift. I love my work, but it has just become so exhausting and frustrating and we are becoming burnt out."
Deb said there was a need for more staff and that the Member for Finniss David Basham was aware of the issues.
"One of our Victor Harbor Paramedics met with him in late 2019. He listened, but closed the meeting by stating how many FTE has been hired by the Marshall Liberal Government. If there have been extra staff added, we don't know where they are, certainly not in the Fleurieu region. There has been no increase in crew numbers in the region since 2001 and change needs to happen," she said.
"A Priority 2 (life threatening case) was recently called in and had to wait three-and-a-half hours because there was no ambulance. Two cardiac patients could not get an ambulance so were driven to the hospital by family members and one suffered a cardiac arrest before arriving.
"It is heartbreaking what we experience every day. An emergency will come through and we are stuck sitting helplessly ramped at Flinders Medical Centre."
Paramedics just want to do the work they are trained to do, but are restricted because of ramping and a lack of resources. Deb said regularly there would be no crews at night due to insufficient staffing, so the keys would be hung up with no one to attend an emergency.
Husband Ross was a paramedic for 29 years, but retired suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which was due to the pressures of the job.
"Currently there are three other members of the crew on Workcover from PTSD. It is not the 'big, bad and brutal' that we encounter every day, as this is what we are trained and joined the job for. It is the pressure and total lack of resources and support which caused me to retire from something I loved," Ross said.
"Not having allocated breaks is a breach of Basic Human Rights. There is no time to process what we go through every day, we just deal with it, but more resources such as staff and ambulances would alleviate so much pressure. A new station would make a huge difference, but the Marshall government is not listening."
Deb showed messages that go out every day from Country Region rostering, which included 18 messages to fill shifts on one day.
"It is a dire and tragic situation, as lives are being lost and threatened because of a lack of government policy or support. I am willing to put my job on the line to support my colleagues and my community," Deb said.
Independent candidate for Finniss Lou Nicholson said the ambulance station at Victor Harbor was run down, ill-positioned for traffic and not big enough to support the needs of the region.
"Victor Harbor urgently needs a new purpose-built station, an additional 24/7 paramedic ambulance and crew," Ms Nicholson said.
"Our people are waiting too long for an ambulance, tragedies have occurred. Our paramedics are at breaking point and coming to me because in four years they've gotten nowhere with the current Member for Finniss - this has to be the top priority for our region."
Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said there was a need for a new fit for purpose ambulance station and increased crew capacity.
"The Fleurieu is one of the fastest growing communities in South Australia and have population swells during school holidays. The ageing Victor station and current staffing allocation is no longer fit for purpose," Ms Sharkie said.
"We have a unique opportunity with state and federal elections this year to push hard for increased health resources To that end, I join Lou Nicholson's call for funding to improve ambulance services across our region and fund a new Ambulance Station at Victor Harbor.
"I will use every avenue open to me to amplify this call, including raising this matter in the Federal Parliament. The current situation is untenable and lives are being put at risk.
""When I was first elected I sent a survey to every house in Mayo asking 'what is most important to you?' Thousands of responses were received and access to health services is our community's number one priority. New residents receive the same survey and the responses remain the same. We value our health and we want access to affordable, local health services."
Ms Sharkie said health was a public policy area that sits across State and Federal Governments.
"While I am the Federal Member I have made it my job to raise state health concerns with State Health Minister Stephen Wade because our community doesn't care which level of government is responsible, they just want problems fixed," she said.
"We have had a number of health funding successes federally, including an extra $13.5 million for Victor Harbor Hospital to increase renal dialysis from four to six chairs and hospital facility upgrades, but the list of needs continue to grow.
"On the South Coast, the most critical concern raised with me is the need for more ambulance services. While Minister Wade has acknowledged to me in writing that ambulance needs have increased in recent years, there doesn't appear to be any urgency to meaningfully address the problem.
"Current crews are exhausted and there is enormous fear that if you need to call 000, is there an ambulance available?"
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