Member for Northern Victoria Tania Maxwell tabled a petition in Parliament last week calling for on-call ambulance services to be restored in Seymour.
The petition, together with an ePetition tabled in February, gained the support of 1062 citizens.
The Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party member presented the petition in the Legislative Council on October 7, two years to the day after Seymour resident Tony Hubbard lost his wife Gayl while waiting 43 minutes for an ambulance to attend the Hubbards’ home.
Seymour ambulance station and hospital can be seen from the back verandah of the Hubbard home, giving the couple comfort that help was close by should they need it.
Mr Hubbard was told by an Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority worker at the time of his emergency call that an ambulance was on its way, which Mr Hubbard said gave him a sense that help was imminent.
Mr Hubbard initiated his petition in February 2020 and gathered 999 signatures before COVID-19 public health orders restricted his efforts to promote it.
Ms Maxwell said resources were stretched in regional areas and if an ambulance had to take a patient to Melbourne, they could be ramped at a hospital for hours.
“If you need an ambulance in a regional area, it is likely to take longer,” she said.
“We appreciate the paramedics who live and work in our regional areas and the exceptional care they give to patients each and every day.
“But we know that their resources are stretched. It’s not just about topography and I will argue that topography should be factored in to planning regional services.
“Tony Hubbard has been dedicated to this cause since losing his wife. He has been active in the media, initiated this petition and took it to his community to get their support.
“Tony stood for days at the Seymour Expo in 2020 gathering signatures, distributed his petition to local shops and knocked on doors to talk with people about the issue. People didn’t hesitate, because they want better.”
Ms Maxwell said she was in regular contact with Ambulance Victoria about response issues across northern Victoria and was continuing to consult the emergency service on improvements, including addressing hospital ramping, workforce support and community measures such as the GoodSAM app, allied health and community care.
“There is not just one solution to improving response times in regional Victoria and we will keep working on all of the solutions that need to be implemented, to support our residents and improve our services,” she said.
The petition aimed to draw attention to the need for equitable services to respond to the health needs of regional Victorians, regardless of where they live; the existence of four ambulances at Seymour station but the rostering of only one crew overnight, and the absence of an on-call service should the crew be deployed to another area, including Melbourne; and the impact of this practice, which leaves residents vulnerable and without an available ambulance response within the 15-minute code one response target.