By Peter Douglas
The impressive glass doors to the $1.4 million Ferntree Gully ambulance station officially opened on Wednesday 11 October.
With Minister for Ambulance Services, Jill Hennessy, leading proceedings, the occasion was celebrated with active paramedics, Ambulance Victoria leaders and members of the Ambulance Association of Victoria.
The opening represents not only a well-earned investment for local paramedics, but a coup for the Dandenong Ranges and Knox regions, which will now benefit from an improved ambulance network.
The new purpose-built facility features four ambulance bays and will give hard-working paramedics improved rest areas, a large training room and off-street car parking.
In total, about 42 paramedics from four teams will rotate through the branch.
Ms Hennessy said the new station was barely recognisable from the one it replaced.
“I looked at the photographs of the before and after of the station, the difference is really, really stark,” she said.
“It looks like a renovation rescue of dramatic proportions.
“I know it has taken a really long time. But to look at the facilities … we’ve got proper training rooms, beds and a common room.”
Ms Hennessy said the station provided a space in which paramedics could offer support to each other.
“This is a really tough job, where you’re exposed to all types of horrific incidents. And those things take a toll,” she said.
“This building will help the camaraderie that’s instilled into branches. It’s about looking out for each other and after each other.
“These building branches that are fit-for-purpose are a big part of our commitment to reform Ambulance Victoria.
“Things are going well. Response times are up; there is significant improvement in morale and a reduction in injuries.”
Ms Hennessy said Code One ambulance response times across Victoria hit 81 per cent in the last quarter, which represented an improvement of six per cent on the same period last year and the best June quarter in eight years.
In the Knox City Council, she said ambulance response times are improving, with 87.2 per cent of ambulances now arriving within 15 minutes for Code One emergencies, up from 82.6 per cent compared to the same time last year.
That means the average response time for an ambulance to reach the scene of a Code One emergency in the Knox City Council has improved from 11.46 minutes to 10.55 minutes.
Meanwhile, Ambulance Victoria’s group manager Andy Roughton and regional director Anthony Carlyon were among the special guests.
Mr Roughton said many within the service are impressed with the Ferntree Gully works.
Member of the Retired Ambulance Association of Victoria, Ian Cameron, said the station was a far cry from what he had worked in.
“This is the kind of station that paramedics deserve – it’s a tough job, so it’s great they can feel at home at this base,” he said.