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Media Release
Private contractor unable to cope with medical emergencies at Cairns festival
United Voice, the ambulance officers union has written to the Minister for Community Safety warning of
the consequences of privatising EMQ and contracting out ambulance services.
It comes as earlier this month; Queensland Ambulance Service was forced to step in when a private
contractor failed to deliver at a festival in North Queensland.
United Voice, State Secretary Gary Bullock says “Today I wrote to Minister Jack Dempsey reminding him
of the importance of our ambulance service.”
“Earlier this month, The Palmer River Festival, which attracted 10,000 revellers was a ‘near miss’ as a
private contractor could not cope with the level of medical emergencies.”
“QAS took it upon themselves to set up a back-up plan in case the private contractor needed assistance
and this decision saved a number of lives.”
“The contractor employed by festival organisers did not have the proper equipment or have suitably
qualified staff to deal with the level of medical cases at the festival.”
“As a result, ambulance officers and EMQ worked 24 hours a day for four days, transporting 10 patients
by air to nearby hospitals and over 20 by ambulance.”
“Most of these cases were serious with patients being treated in intensive care for overdoses, cardiac
problems and broken bones.”
“I have no doubt without the proactive decision by QAS to set up an ambulance station near the festival,
the outcome would be very different.”
“Thankfully there were no fatalities. However this was due to the quick thinking of QAS and its
dedication to community safety.”
“I would urge the Minister to think of this as a case study in how private providers will cut services and
put profit before patients- next time we may not be so lucky.”
For further information contact Susan Butler on 0428189130
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