Tragedy inspires a mother's fight to boost vital services
A COLLINSVILLE mother has vowed to keep fighting following two separate petitions to increase the number of emergency personnel in her town.
It was a day dissimilar to any other for Jocelyn Cole, who while undertaking housework one morning heard her son Ty Robinson declare he wouldn't be around much longer.
She never imagined he meant it literally.
While her partner Joel worked helplessly to keep his son alive, Ms Cole got to work dialling 000 to inform paramedics at the ambulance station located just a few minutes away.
Twenty-two minutes later the paramedics arrived, at which point Ms Cole collapsed through the gate.
Six months on, the mother of two still can't believe the time it took them to get there.
"I'm fuming," she said.
"I'm not saying that them getting there any quicker was going to help Ty, it wouldn't have. But if the situation had been different with a less severe wound, 22 minutes could cost someone their life."
The Queensland Ambulance Service confirmed that at the time of the incident the paramedic on duty drove to the local fire station first to use a QFES officer as an emergency driver.
A representative said this was common practice in rural stations.
The arrival of the paramedic was further delayed until it could be confirmed police were on the scene due to the nature of the call-out.
But Ms Cole said this wasn't the first time she had felt let down by a lack of emergency resources.
In April last year Ms Cole's father, now deceased, had to be transported from his home to hospital after suffering from pain brought on by pancreatic cancer.
Located in a two-storey home, and unable able to move under his own accord, Ms Cole said only a single paramedic was able to attend to the scene.
"She's trying to teach us how to carry him down the stairs so we didn't hurt him," she said.
"He was in so much pain and it was just ridiculous that we only had one paramedic.
"She was just too small and there was no way in the world she was going to get Dad down the stairs."
Ms Cole said she had further examples of the issue in her community.
After a fight involving a large number of people broke out in a popular Collinsville night spot some months ago, only one police officer was sent to break it up.
"All that police officer could do was stand back and wait for backup to come from Bowen," she said.
"By that time it had escalated further."
Recently Ms Cole compiled petitions signed by more than 400 Collinsville residents to increase police and ambulance numbers in Collinsville, which she presented to Member for Burdekin Dale Last.
Although the petition outlined many concerns, it failed to persuade the Police Minister and was "ignored" by the Minister for Ambulance Services according to Mr Last.
Mr Last said the lack of resources was putting lives at risk and he wanted State Government Ministers to front the public in response to calls for more ambulance and police staff in the community.
"Paramedics are having to rely on a member of the public to drive an ambulance while they are working to save a life in the back of that ambulance and all the Minister can say is that it will be taken into consideration ... it really is an insult," he said.
Mr Last said the issue wasn't just limited to Collinsville, with a recent Question on Notice about police officer numbers at Bowen dismissed despite safety issues for police officers being one of the concerns.
He also said the problem wasn't within the departments, but in the government itself.
A Queensland Ambulance Service representative dismissed Mr Last's claims that current staffing numbers were putting lives at risk, stating Collinsville was appropriately resourced.
"The QAS reviews historical and predicted demands for service when considering the allocation of ambulance resources," the representative said.
"The two officers work an eight-day on, six-day off roster with a single officer response between 0800-1800hrs every day. QAS resources are further supported by the Mackay or Townsville-based rescue helicopter services, Auxiliary Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Rural Fire Service officers and Queensland Police Service officers."
But Ms Cole said something had to change.
"I'm not going to stop until I get what I want. It's not nice sitting on the phone for 22 minutes while you have you have your son lying there," she said.
"I feel for anybody who has to go through that. I'm not taking anything away from the people who come to do their job, they do a brilliant job, but we just need more."