Six ambulance community officers will support Rochester's one-person ambulance station paramedic.By Elaine Cooney
Rochester’s one-person ambulance station now has the extra support of six ambulance community officers to support the paramedic in his daily work.
Paramedic Mike Holden said the new recruits could use the automatic defibrillator, administer basic medication and were accredited for emergency driving.
‘‘You can’t treat (the patient) and drive at the same time,’’ he said.
‘‘Now that (some of the work) can be done by a second officer.
‘‘They make the workload lighter with their support and knowledge.’’
He said during call-outs there were now two officers in the ambulance 95 per cent of the time, which eased pressure on resources.
Mr Holden said as a one-man crew he was restricted in administering drugs on site because he was unable to then transport a patient to hospital, meaning he had to wait for another ambulance from Echuca.
‘‘That leaves Echuca with one car instead of two,’’ he said.
He said before the new ambulance community officers started he called for back-up about 75 per cent of the time.
‘‘Now the day and night shifts are covered,’’ he said.
Two of the long-term officers and four new ambulance community officers completed a Certificate II in Emergency Medical Service Response, which involved 80 hours of training over six weekends.
‘‘That was all in their own time so they are making a good sacrifice,’’ Mr Holden said.
The jobs are permanent and the officers are paid for each call-out but not while on call.
Mr Holden said the day shifts were 10 hours and night shifts 14.
He said the Rochester-based officers received a phone call or page before being called out to an incident, while the Echuca and Moama members either helped out at incidents in Echuca which involved the Rochester ambulance or remained at the Rochester station while on call.
Diggora resident Lindsey Macague, who also volunteers with the Rochester SES, said she took up the role of ambulance community officer because she liked to help people.
‘‘The more first aid you know the better,’’ she said.
Moama resident James Scott is studying to be a paramedic so he is getting first-hand experience working alongside a paramedic.
Rochester resident Wayne Morris (also a Rochester SES member) said he wanted to do something useful with his time since retiring.
Echuca resident Paul Nicoll and Nanneella resident Simon Pearson are police officers and on their days off or free time become ambulance community officers.
Rochester’s David Harris said the job of ambulance community officer came easily to him as he had been with St John Ambulance for three years.
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