Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (15 November) . . Page.. 3524..
Mr Hargreaves: Three.
MRS BURKE: Thank you. Why is it necessary for the ACT to continue to have to rely on the generosity of other states to cover the shortfall in emergency services vehicles under this government?
MR CORBELL: I do not know whether Mrs Burke heard my answer. We are not continuing to rely. There was a brief period of time where, due to the delay in the arrival of the new vehicles-delay by the manufacturer and outfitter-three vehicles were retired, with three temporary replacements brought into the territory. All those vehicles have since been returned to Victoria because our new, permanent vehicles have arrived.
I do not know that Mrs Burke would prefer otherwise, to be three ambulances short, but that would not be an acceptable outcome. I have adequately outlined the circumstances on this issue.
MR SESELJA: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for emergency services. Minister, ambulance officers have advised that single response unit, or SRU, vehicles are often deploying on urgent callout to serious emergencies. While members of these units are fully trained paramedics, their vehicles are not suitable for emergency casualty evacuation to hospital, so they have to wait for a fully crewed ambulance to respond to their patient. Why are you counting SRU vehicles as part of the seven fully crewed ambulances on standby per shift, given that they are not fully crewed ambulances?
MR CORBELL: I am not. In fact, shortly after I became minister the decision was taken that we would not continue with the normal practice of staffing single response units-the vehicles Mr Seselja refers to. That was in direct response to a request by ambulance officers and their union that, instead of having two officers each in a single response unit, those two officers be allocated to a stretcher vehicle so that the responding officers had the full capability of a stretcher ambulance. I agreed to that, as did ACT Ambulance management. That is why we now have seven stretcher ambulances on the road.
Single response units continue to be used where there is a shortfall in staffing and there is only half of a two-person crew available. Rather than have that person sit around and do nothing, we put them into a single response unit. But that is the exception, not the norm. The normal level of staffing is for seven stretcher ambulances.
MR SESELJA: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, are there currently seven fully crewed ambulances on the road seven days a week, 24 hours a day?
MR CORBELL: The crewing levels are different in the very early hours of the morning between midnight and 6.00 am compared to other hours of the day, so I