AMBULANCE SERVICE AMENDMENT BILL 2013
Mrs ARMITAGE ( Launceston ) - Mr President, I also support the principle of the bill. Like others, I have a few concerns with some of the areas in the bill. One of them is the rebadging. We heard this morning at briefings that someone who needed their vehicle rebadged could apply for an extension of time if they were looking for their vehicle to be replaced, but there were no guarantees they would get an extension of time or how long the extension of time might be. That was a little concern for me. It does not alleviate your fear when you are told you can apply for one; it does not mean you are going to get it or how long you are going to get. I am also concerned with the removal of the warning devices. I know it would be very rare, and we heard this morning it was only twice in the 15 years. The gentleman who spoke to us about his private ambulance fleet had used them. It was put to me today that what would happen if a private ambulance was transporting a non-emergency case and the person suffered a massive heart attack during transport and needed to be taken to hospital as quickly as possible. If they were coming up the Midland Highway, would the private ambulance be required to pull up on the side of the road and wait for a real ambulance with flashing lights to come and pick them up? If they were permitted to continue with the transport of the now-emergency patient without warning devices to alert the public of the emergency, is that not again placing everyone in the vehicle in a dangerous situation? We were told this morning that there is a lot of paperwork and red tape in place if you are going to use your emergency flashing lights and I wonder if we are not being perhaps a little too precious. I know the member for Elwick mentioned the definition of 'ambulance'. I was looking at Wikipedia and it says: An ambulance is a vehicle for transportation of sick or injured people to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury and in some instances will also provide out-of-hospital medical care to the patient. The term 'ambulance' does however extend to a wider range of vehicles other than those with flashing warning lights and sirens. The term also includes a large number of non-urgent ambulances which are for transport of patients without an urgent or acute condition. It goes on to say they can be helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, boats, even hospital ships. I have some concerns with some of the areas in the bill, which I am sure will be addressed tonight. I believe there may be some amendments coming up and I will speak to those at the time. I support the principle of the bill and, as the member for Windermere said, we all support the work of Ambulance Tasmania and our ambulance officers whether they be voluntary or career. They do a wonderful job and we could not survive without them. I support the principle of the bill.