Lifesavers call for a review

SOUTH Coast surf lifesavers have called for a review of protocols regarding transfer of injured people in difficult or isolated terrain and for better emergency access at North Broulee.

Their call follows the injury of a teen on February 2 off Broulee Island. Paramedics reached the patient on foot within five minutes of a call to Triple 0, but the area could not be reached by car. SES personnel and volunteers had to carry the teen almost two kilometres over rock and sand to a waiting ambulance.

Then on Friday night, Far South Coast duty officer Andrew Edmunds said a man in his 50s broke his leg at North Broulee Beach and had to be driven the length of the beach to a waiting ambulance as there is no emergency access to the beach in that area.

Mr Edmunds said police had tasked surf life savers to that incident and they had driven the man along the beach in a four-wheel drive vehicle at the request of ambulance officers.

He said an emergency access point was desperately needed in the vicinity after several incidents. 

A Eurobodalla Shire Council spokesperson said discussions were still underway with stakeholders.

“Last year, Euro-bodalla Shire Council consulted with the community and the surf club about the proposal for emergency access to North Broulee beach,” the spokesperson said. 

“There were strong views expressed both for and against. This month, council will brief councillors on the feedback. A more detailed report will follow next month, which will ask council to make a formal decision.”

Meanwhile, lifesavers have added their voices to the call for a review of transfer protocols, after neither life savers nor the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter were asked to help in the incident on Broulee Island.

“Surf Life Saving was not requested to attend this incident,” Mr Edmunds said.

“There was no request for assistance from the Ambulance Service of NSW to respond to our State Operations Centre or State Duty Officer.

“It is also not a isolated incident. We have had numerous cases both locally and across the state. It is a problem that needs to be rectified. We have a fantastic working relationship with local ambulance crews and I want to stress they’re great to work with. However there are times where surf life savers and the Westpac Life Saver Helicopter crew can assist by providing immediate first aid with pain management, oxygen, resuscitation and spinal equipment.” 

In the Broulee Island case, the NSW Ambulance Service said a clinical decision was made not to task an ambulance helicopter, as the teen’s injuries were not life-threatening.

The service said only the police could task outside rescue agencies, and paramedics could not transfer a patient into the care of agencies who lacked trained paramedics.

The Bay Post/Moruya Examiner has sought clarification from the NSW Health Department and the NSW Ministry of Health regarding protocols in difficult terrain.

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