Posted on 24. Jun, 2013 in News

Paramedics were kept in the dark and forced to drive ambulance vehicles for months after Ambulance Victoria and the Napthine Government had identified a catastrophic engine failure in their EURO4 fleet, Labor’s Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Wade Noonan, said today.

Mr Noonan said Ambulance Victoria board meeting minutes from May 2012 revealed that one vehicle had been written off due to an engine fire and that four other vehicles had similar engine failures over a six month period.

“This smacks of a cover up – the paramedics were left in the dark about the true extent of the safety risks associated with these ambulance vehicles,” Mr Noonan said.

“And we know that at least one ambulance had to be written off due to this engine failure problem.

“The Health Minister, David Davis, must come clean and explain why paramedics were forced to drive these vehicles for so long after the catastrophic engine failure had been detected.”

Mr Noonan said that the minutes also revealed that Ambulance Victoria had been forced to pursue the manufacturer of the vehicles for assurances regarding safety.

The minutes stated:
Ambulance Victoria requested that Mercedes Benz provide immediate assurance that the AV fleet with the EURO4 cylinder engines are safe and if this assurance could not be given that they detail in writing what measures would be taken to provide a solution in the shortest timeframe available.

“It’s bad enough that patients may have been placed at risk by being left in these unsafe vehicles, but the fact that paramedics weren’t fully informed is absolutely shocking,” he said.

“Unbelievably, while this disaster was playing out, Ambulance Victoria ordered almost a hundred more of these vehicles from Mercedes Benz.”

Mr Noonan said the issue with ambulance vehicles was the latest debacle in the crisis that is gripping the ambulance service in Victoria.

“The Napthine Government is running our ambulance service into the ground. It has never been as bad as it is right now under Denis Napthine,” Mr Noonan said.

“Emergency Departments are increasingly unable to transfer patients from ambulances in a timely fashion while response times across Melbourne and regional Victoria have blown out in the last two and half years.

“This comes at the same time that paramedics are leaving the service – exhausted and overworked – at alarming rates.

“The response from Mr Napthine and Mr Davis is to always to deny, dismiss or blame someone else – they can’t fix the crisis in ambulance until they admit there is one.”

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