13 August 2018

New vehicles and electric stretchers to ease load on ambulance service

| Ian Bushnell
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Minister for Emergency Services Mick Gentleman and ACTAS Chief Officer Howard Wren, with the new ambulances at ESA headquarters at Fairbairn. Photo: Supplied.

The arrival of five new, state-of-the-art replacement ambulances fitted with electric stretchers was welcome good news for Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman, fresh from last week’s row with the Opposition over crewing numbers.

The Opposition had accused the Government of delaying by more than 100 days the release of data which shows that ambulances were working below their minimum crewing levels for 41.5 per cent of the time in 2016-17.

But a spokesperson for Mr Gentleman had said the data was complex and needed to be understood in context.

“The Minister has subsequently answered further questions about ambulance crewing, has committed to the recruitment of 24 additional staff as well as two new ambulances, and agreed to undertake a review of minimum crewing standards,” the spokesperson had said.

Those two new ambulances will join the fleet in November but on Monday (13 August) the five new ambulances, funded as part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to the ACT Emergency Service Agency (ESA) Vehicle Replacement Program, were on show at ESA headquarters at Fairbairn.

Fitted with electronic stretchers and power loaders to reduce physical demands on paramedics and improve patient safety, the ambulances are part of an ACT Ambulance Service (ACTAS) fleet upgrade under the Government’s $4.6 million 2018-19 Budget commitment to enhance vehicle capabilities over four years.

The stretchers’ battery-powered hydraulic system allows for much easier and safer carrying, and should reduce the likelihood of any injuries from loading patients into ambulances.

Three existing ambulances have also been retrofitted with electric stretchers and power loaders, while a further three ambulances that have been replaced, will be kept and maintained for use when demand on the service surges during peak times.

Mr Gentleman said demand on the ACT Ambulance Service was at the highest level ever and despite growing demand, the ACT had continued to record the best response times in the country over the past six years, as well as the highest levels of patient satisfaction.

The program to roll out the electric stretchers and power loaders to all ESA ambulances was well on track to be completed by 2020, he said.

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