Thursday, December 17, 2009

Impaled woman has long wait for government ambulance

"Ambulance Victoria (AV) will make sure you receive the best possible care", they say. Tell that to the woman below

A WOMAN was impaled on a steel fence for an agonising 47 minutes waiting for an ambulance. The 34-year-old received no pain relief while her body was supported by volunteer emergency services workers during the ordeal at Yarrawonga, in Victoria's north.

Ambulance Victoria has launched an investigation into the delay. It was contacted at 9.42pm on Tuesday and told Kim Broadbent had been impaled through the groin in a fall. A crew did not arrive until 10.29pm. There was no paramedic available in the border town that night and sources said a graduate officer was refused permission to attend.

A crew was sent from Wangaratta, 55km away, but was not cleared to travel over the speed limit or with lights and sirens. By then, Ms Broadbent had spent more than 47 minutes seriously injured, lapsing in and out of consciousness. There is widespread disgust in Yarrawonga at the delay.

Ms Broadbent travelled to Melbourne by air ambulance with a section of fence still lodged inside her. She did not arrive at The Alfred hospital until about three hours after the first call. She was stable last night.

Her mother, Heather Broadbent, attended the scene and said those waiting for the ambulance were supporting her daughter and afraid to move her for fear of doing more damage. Mrs Broadbent said Wangaratta seemed too far away for an emergency job in Yarrawonga.

AV regional general manager Garry Cook said all parts of the case were being examined. Ambulance Employees Australia acting general secretary Phil Cavanagh said the review needed to address a key point: "Yarrawonga had no ambulance. Why?"


Copenhagen 'a big gravy train', says Abbott

Nice to hear it called for exactly what it is

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott says the climate change summit in Copenhagen is turning into a gravy train for some countries. Wealthy nations in Copenhagen have so far pledged some $US22 billion ($24.43 billion) to bankroll the war on global warming. Australia was one of six developed countries that promised to set up a fund to fight the loss of forests in neighbouring countries - a leading source for rising temperatures.

Mr Abbott told a gathering of Liberal Party members in the seat of Deakin in Melbourne's east that the coalition would be bringing out its own climate change policy in a few weeks.

He fears that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is in Copenhagen, will do a deal that will hurt the Australian economy while not doing much to advance world environment. "My problem is, why does Mr Rudd think the best way to save the environment is to increase your cost of living?" Mr Abbott said. "Why does he give us a tax policy and tell us it's an environment policy?" He said the Coalition policy on the environment would be one that tackles the problem and not one that pretends to fix the environment.

"My worry is that the more we see of Copenhagen, the more it looks like a great big gravy train for people whose objective is not so much the environment but it is to get more for them by leaping on the climate change bandwagon."


No website crash, says fire service, just 'service interruptions'

Typical bureaucracy. But this bureaucracy can be a killer. Its bungles have killed in the past

The Country Fire Authority has refused to admit its website crashed today despite Victorians being unable to view crucial warnings during the high fire danger day. Despite the denial, the CFA has promised an investigation into why browsers were unable to find crucial information on a day posing an extreme fire threat to parts of the state.

The website was beset by technical glitches this morning as the state faced its hottest day since Black Saturday and emergency services warned residents to prepare for fires. It was then completely unable to show warnings or a summary map of current fires in Victoria for a number of hours.

Angry readers contacted The Age, frustrated that on a day of extreme heat and high winds they were unable to check the website. "This is not good enough! I am sick of the excuses," one reader wrote. "The CFA receptionist told me it was being looked at by IT and that I should try connecting again in an hour or so! What??? Ok sure... I could have smoke approaching my house and I should try checking the site in an hour or so!"

CFA chief executive officer Mick Bourke said the website had experienced technical faults and was now again showing fire warnings. "A full investigation into the causes of the service interruptions is being instituted by CFA to ensure that they do not reoccur," he said. "The CFA website has been functioning all day, the site has not ‘crashed’ but the feed of warning messages was interrupted. "Emergency reponse and community safety was not affected."

At 3.35pm in Melbourne, the temperature had hit 38 degrees, with the forecast maximum of 39 expected to be reached between 4pm and 5pm. The bushfire danger rating will be severe and very high for much of the rest of the state.


Queensland council avoids naughty word: "Christmas"

Sunshine Coast Council has defended its decision to exclude the word "Christmas" from its 2009 corporate Christmas cards. Mailed and emailed cards wish their recipients "seasons greetings" and "all the best for the festive season and the New Year", but no reference to Christmas.

Defending its generic message, council initially said it had no policy to remove Christmas but was "mindful of people’s different backgrounds and beliefs". A further statement added: "Council’s vision is to be Australia’s most sustainable region vibrant, green, diverse. With diversity of belief and cultural background in mind council seeks to promote goodwill and peace during the festive season."

Noosa Christian Outreach Centre pastor Michael Clift said he was baffled as to why council would choose not to acknowledge the very season that provided the reason for it to mail cards. "I’d also then ask why they are sponsoring our Christmas carols concert?" Pastor Clift said. "Dear me, at the end of the day why sponsor that event as they do every year when we will be giving Christmas one heck of a belting?"

He said anyone offended by use of the word Christmas should not take a holiday on December 25. "Rock up to work on Friday the 25th and, for goodness sake, don’t have the following Monday off as that would really be hypocritical," he said.

"If the ethos is to avoid offending people then they’ve already done it. "I’m offended they’ve not had the courage to encourage Christmas."

Noosa District Catholic Parish Father Mark Franklin was similarly perplexed. "It sounds a little crazy if you ask me," he said. "I cannot see the sense in sending cards to wish people a happy or merry anything unless it is about Christmas, seeing that is why we have a holiday. "I know that lots of people from our church would find this strange."

Rev Scott Ballment of Tewantin and Sunrise Beach Uniting Churches said it was a shame Council had taken the stance it had, but he added that it would not stop his congregation celebrating Christmas. "It does seem strange that if you’re sending out Christmas cards to only use season’s greetings," he said. "It’s certainly somewhat odd. It’s a shame they’ve removed it but we will still be celebrating in full force."

A former Noosa Council staffer told The Noosa Journal the old council had no policy against use of the word Christmas and had used the word on cards in previous years.

University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer in public relations Dr Amalia Matheson said companies and councils ran the risk of being "bland" in their corporate messages in a bid to try to please all sections of the community with their choice of words. "At least they have not gone for the American `happy holidays’," she said.


International deal to resettle 78 Tamils in several countries

Australia is on the verge of clinching a deal with New Zealand, Canada, Norway and possibly the US to help resettle the 78 Tamil asylum-seekers rescued by the Australian Customs vessel the Oceanic Viking. The Australian understands a number of countries have indicated a willingness to take some of the Sri Lankans, who were rescued in October after their boat foundered. However, while sources say "a significant" number of the Sri Lankans are expected to be resettled in third countries, Australia is still set to take the majority.

News of the expected breakthrough came as a boat carrying 55 people was intercepted off Ashmore Reef on Tuesday night. The interception -- the 54th this year -- will push the immigration detention centre on Christmas Island to a boatload from breaking point. According to an Immigration Department spokesman, there are currently 1443 detainees on the island. But when the 55 intercepted on Tuesday arrive the number will jump to 1498, just 62 shy of the centre's current capacity of 1560.

There is a growing expectation the government will begin transferring asylum-seekers to detention centres on the mainland, possibly as early as next week. At least three countries -- New Zealand, Canada and Norway -- are believed to have indicated to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees a willingness to take some of the 78 Tamils. The US is also understood to be interested, although it is not clear if a formal offer has been made.

New Zealand's involvement would represent an about-face a month after Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman refused to help resettle the Tamils, issuing a pointed rebuff to the Rudd government over its "ad hoc" handling of the incident. A spokeswoman for Dr Coleman could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Nor would Mr Rudd's office comment on the claims. A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Chris Evans would say only that Australia was in discussions "with other countries around the world which also have resettlement programs".

Yesterday, The Australian reported all 78 of the asylum-seekers had been designated genuine refugees by the UNHCR, increasing the pressure on Canberra to find the Sri Lankans a home. It is not clear how many of the 78 will be resettled in third countries, although it is understood more than half will end up in Australia. One source said the numbers were still the subject of discussion, but that "a significant number" were expected to go to third countries.

Much will depend on whether Indonesia chooses to strictly enforce the timeframes for resettlement. In exchange for leaving the Oceanic Viking, Australia promised successful refugees would be resettled to a third country within four to 12 weeks. But the agreement also involved Indonesia, making continued goodwill from Jakarta essential.

Organising access to the asylum-seekers is also understood to be a potential barrier, with other resettlement countries expected to want see the 78 in order to conduct their own checks.


No comments: