Aboriginal community wants ambos to lift ban
FOUR-YEAR-OLD Levi Cavanough's cheeky grin widened as he raced around his Box Ridge loungeroom yesterday.
He could be a sports star of the future and he rarely falls. But he did fall recently and the energetic youngster was left for more than an hour as a police escort had to be arranged so the ambulance could come.
It seemed ridiculous to Levi's mother, Raylene Cavanough, that an ambulance visit for a four-year-old would require police protection.
However, a police escort is required for all jobs to Box Ridge, an Aboriginal community on the outskirts of Coraki, according to Ambulance NSW policy.
Ms Cavanough, who is raising nine children at Box Ridge, said the policy was 'unfair' and believed 'there really isn't a need for it'.
Ms Cavanough grew up at Box Ridge and cannot remember a time when ambulance officers would visit the community without a police escort.
She fears the additional time needed to arrange these escorts is putting the safety of residents, and her children, at risk.
“It's unfair that they do this. They don't do it to any other town,” she said.
An Ambulance NSW Lismore sector office spokeswoman, Virginia McKenna, said police escorts were usually only required when an address had been flagged due to prior assaults or threats to paramedics and that flagging a whole community was unusual.
Ms McKenna said the ambulance alert list was updated every few months and at different times every population centre in the State would have had addresses on it.
“It was unfair for those two towns to be singled out,” she said. “There are reports of violence against paramedics across the region.”
Ms McKenna said the policy regarding Box Ridge was based partly on reports of violence to ambulance officers and vehicles. However, she agreed none of those reports had been made within the past year.
“Another reason the whole town was flagged is because of the phone system in Box Ridge. You can't tell which house the call is coming from and so everyone is affected if one house is flagged,” she said.
During the past six months, Ms McKenna said the ambulance service had been meeting with Box Ridge residents and police to get the community cut from the list.
“Things have really improved at Box Ridge,” she said. “We are keen to do anything we can to minimise delays for every ambulance call.”