||Issue No. 215||02 April 2004|
Interview: Terror Australis
Unions: Graeme Beard's Second Dig
Industrial: The Hell of Troy
Organising: Miners Strike Gold
Economics: The Accepted Wisdom
History: Vicious Old Lady
International: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Review: War Unfogged
The Locker Room
Getting Away With Murder
Gong Points Death Bone at Iemma
South Coast Labor Council secretary, Arthur Rorris, highlighted three recent accidents to urge the Government to base a medical retrieval unit, similar to those operating out of Sydney, Newcastle, Tamworth and Lismore, at Wollongong Hospital.
He says the resistance of Health Minister, Maurice Iemma, may be costing lives on the South Coast.
Concrete renderer Ron Tabak died before he could be reached by a doctor dispatched from Sydney two and a half hours after witnesses say he fell into a trench.
Rorris cannot comment on specifics of the case because it is before a coroner but alleges that, from the time of finally being called, it took a Sydney-based doctor 35 minutes to reach Port Kembla by helicopter.
"We should have a doctor available in 10 minutes, not 35," he argues. "There is a hospital up the road but there is no retrieval unit based there.
"People on the South Coast are sick of this Minister's intransigence. From here on we will be holding him, and local politicians, responsible every time one of our workmates dies on the job."
Rorris said the Tabak death came within days of the lid being blown off the Port Kembla ethanol plant in an explosion, and a worker falling into a deep ditch at the nearby Sydney Water Treatment Works.
"We have a lifesaver helicopter and we have paramedics but these services don't come with a Wollongong-based doctor. In cases of serious injury, the first 20 minutes can be vital," Rorris said.
The Labor Council secretary says his organisation's fears have been highlighted by this week's leak of an internal review conducted by pilots at Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service.
That review lists six case studies, since June last year, in which "tasking" of the helicopter was overlooked or delayed within the South Coast region.
"The commitment of the Medical Retrieval Unit to serving the community and the professionalism of the Unit's officers is not in question," report authors say. "This review document shoud not and is not designed to detract from the positive relationship that the Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service and the Medical Retrieval Unit share.
"It is, however, apparent that a number of barriers to performance need to be overcome for the unit and the aeromedical network to perform as well as it would wish."
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