After a strong community-led campaign Nagambie is set to have its own full-time paramedic.
Previously the town relied on one paramedic — but only during its peak tourism season — and the support of ambulance community officers for the rest of the year.
MICA paramedic Craig Hazelwood, who has been working part-time in Nagambie since February 2017, said the community has been in desperate need for someone to fulfill the role on a permanent, full-time basis, because he usually works four days on, four days off, with call-outs often occurring during his time off.
‘‘It’s an area that continues to grow and it attracts retired couples, so it’s got an ageing population and they of course need the ambulance more than young people,’’ he said.
‘‘But it also attracts people coming up here for risky activities such as water-skiing, wake-boarding and motorbike riding ... so we do have some nasty accidents from time to time. All in all it’s a fantastic outcome and we couldn’t be happier. The community has been amazing — they’ve really been behind this cause.’’
Mr Hazelwood said before there was an ambulance in Nagambie, patients would have to wait for a vehicle to come from Seymour, Murchison or Shepparton, causing delays ranging from 20 minutes to an hour.
‘‘So of course that had a negative impact on patient outcomes,’’ he said.
‘‘But now there’s a paramedic here we can reduce those times, limit the damage to those people and hopefully return them to their normal lifestyles as soon as possible.’’
Strathbogie Shire mayor Amanda McClaren said a full-time paramedic service was going to ensure residents and visitors to the town received the immediate healthcare they needed in times of emergency.
‘‘This is something Strathbogie Shire has been advocating strongly for and will ensure the livability of Nagambie now and into the future,’’ Cr McClaren said.
Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said it was fantastic to see Nagambie get its own page in the budget after the community had long been calling for a permanent ambulance paramedic.
‘‘The delay for Nagambie has been the challenge around the fact their permanent population doesn’t necessarily justify the dedicated, permanent paramedic here,’’ Ms Symes said.
‘‘So it’s been an argument we’ve had to mount with the Health Department that Nagambie is a special case,’’ she said.
‘‘But this isn’t just about driving an ambulance to acute cases — this is about community education, getting out and about, talking to your Men’s Sheds, your aged care facilities, and helping people prevent needing to go to hospital or call an ambulance.’’