Islands’ residents deserve better treatment

Southern Moreton Bay islands
Southern Moreton Bay islands

Dear local representatives, ladies and gentlemen, I am contacting you in regards to a personal example that may help highlight the plight of residents who seek better infrastructure provisions, commensurate with a dynamically growing population on the southern Moreton Bay islands.

Our lobbying over many years for better and diversified transport options other than just a single water transport monopoly and a single access point connection on Russell Island where I live (including alternative access and evacuation options) has been met with indefinite procrastination.

A 2011 GHD alternative water transport study has been ignored and a petition signed by 1,100 for a Rocky Point boat ramp declined.

Getting from the islands to hospital

The transfer time from the islands to hospital is of particular concern.

My father had a heart failure (a heart attack, as the cardiologist at the PA diagnosed it the following day) and the ambulance was called around 10pm on Saturday, 19 January this year and it took more than an hour and a half (!) for just a transfer as near as Redland Bay, before waiting for hospital placement started on the mainland.

The poor ambulance officer was on their own; another person was also picked up who had apparently no critical or life-threatening condition, while waiting for the ambulance boat. Why these cannot be parked at respective islands to be quickly available, is another question.

My father was then transferred to the Redlands Hospital – instead of Logan Hospital, better equipped for this condition, where he had been treated before,where paperwork of treatment history was at hand and despite specifically being asked for! This was not within the authority of the ambulance officers.

He had to wait at the Redlands Hospital for 4 hours(!)  until a specialist doctor (head of department) “finally” arrived and “finally” ordered him to be transferred to the PA Hospital where there was adequate specialist equipment and professional specialist care to look after him!

More than six hours to travel 40km

So, in summary: from the 000 call made to final arrival at the only heart specialist hospital on the southside of Brisbane, the PA Hospital – it took more than 6 hours! Over 6 hours,  within a metropolitan radius of a state capital, a mere 40 kms from the island location where the 000 call was made. This is clearly unacceptable.

Dr Michael Cameron’s letter about Redlands Hospital made front page news.

I appreciate the effort of the local medical professionals who, no doubt, give their best to provide the best available care on these islands. But there is certainly significant room for improvement when one reads the recently published letter of Dr Cameron, whose description of conditions I can fully associate with.

Given the above circumstances, the ambulance cars on these islands should be equipped with a Mobile Intensive Care Unit in case longer time for transfer is involved and there is no helicopter transfer available (as it should have been in the above case).

Such equipment could make it possible to place a patient under induced coma or other urgent medical response, while waiting for transfer by water transport. I note that equipping the ferries with defibrillators has been a great step in this direction.

I also note that North Stradbroke Island has 24-hour medical care available, while having less than half of the population of the larger islands, Russell or Macleay, regardless of whether it is tourist season or not.

Mass evacuation from the islands

In addition to the above, despite the recommendations of the QFES report in 2017, there is still no secondary land evacuation route on Russell Island, nor officially certified barge ramp on the southern half which could help our chances in a mass evacuation scenario in case of a large fire. Emergency backup on fire trucks could only arrive via barges but how much average time could that take before lives could be threatened or perish, besides property?

More thorough planning and actions are needed

We deserve to be treated better than “second or third-class” citizens, as island residents within 10 kms from the mainland and 40 kms within a capital city radius.

While minor infrastructure improvements such as proposed additional parking for island residents on the mainland may constitute some short-term progress, it would still be inadequate to address issues such as those discussed above. We have come to a stage where more thorough planning and action is needed to ensure long-term sustainability of living on these islands.

I sincerely hope that, while a faster transfer could have potentially saved or extended my father’s life, this shall, at the very least, be a “wake-up” call to expedite planning and funding infrastructure provisions for these islands that have a predominantly elderly population – so that other people may be saved or be given a better chance in similar critical situations.

Greg Hartay-Szabo
Russell Island

Former chairperson of MBCIA

Islands transport needs to be discussed at community rally

Weinam Creek ferry terminal at Redland Bay

A community rally to discuss transport to the southern Moreton Bay islands will be held at Weinam Creek Ferry terminal on Sunday 10 March.

Here is a link to more information about the planned rally.

Published by Redlands2030 – 3 March 2019

0 thoughts on “Islands’ residents deserve better treatment”

  1. I totally agree with building a bridge to the islands. I have been paying rates for about fifty years on a vacant block on Lamb Island, including the translink charge and I never go over there. Now it’s impossible to sell because of the transport problems and I am now on a single pension, which makes it all very hard financially. Of course the powers that be don’t care a damn, do they??

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