Open letter to NSW State Premier, Ms Gladys Berejiklian Dear Madam Premier I am writing to you to make you aware of a “perfect storm” that is brewing in Batemans Bay NSW that is potentially putting the lives at risk for those residing or travelling, north of the Batemans Bay bridge. The reason I bring this to your attention is because my attempts over the past few months, to bring action by your NSW Ministers to prevent it, seems to have failed, so now, our community is relying on you. The “perfect storm” is when (not if) the NSW Batemans Bay bridge gets stuck yet again, and if at the same time, there is a medical emergency on the north side of the bridge at the same time, requiring an ambulance to save a life. It could be victim of a heart attack, brown snake bite, near drowning, critical asthma attack or car accident. We are now in the busiest time of the year so the chances of such a tragedy has now massively increased. Background 1) The Batemans Bay bridge is now 60 years old, and has a proven track record of unreliability when being opened to allow tall vessles to pass. In the past few years, it has been stuck for between 1 and 3 hours. The bridge is set to be replaced, with building to commence in 2019. This means the community has approximately 4 years, or more, to live with a knowingly unreliable bridge that has a history of breakdowns. Nobody can guarantee that breakdowns will not occur again. 2) The current contingency plans involve sending backup ambulances from Braidwood or Ulladulla. Braidwood is an hour away from Batemans Bay. Ulladulla is 45 minutes away and newspapers reported that it is already short on vehicles for their own local needs. In either case, both scenarios would add an EXTRA 20 to 45 extra minutes, above and beyond the normal wait time. I also understand that the mix of contingency plans includes putting a paramedic in a small boat with what essentially amounts to a first aid kit, taking them across the river by tender and having a normal vehicle drive the paramedic to the patient. Even if they had a tender waiting there at all times, the paramedic would still be delayed and would arrive to the patient without all the life saving equipment from a professionally fitted ambulance. These all add unacceptable extra risk to the residents of North Batemans Bay. 3) I understand there is a “right of way” for boats on the Clyde River, which requires that the Batemans Bay bridge be opened “on demand”, with 24 hours notice. At present, the bridge opens at least twice a day. This right of way harks back to the days when logging in the area required timber logs to be taken downstream to trucks at Batemans Bay for transport. Those days are long gone as timber logging no longer happens. Therefore this “right of way” is now irrelevant in 2017. This “right of way” must (and can) be rescinded immediately. The alternative is to risk human life in order to ensure pleasure boats can travel under a raised bridge. Current Status Knowingly adding further risk to the lives of residents and travellers north Batemans Bay, when there is a very easy and simple alternative, is a breach of duty of care. There has been plenty of talk over the past few months, but NO action on this issue, despite me making the following Government representatives aware of this potentially life threatening (but avoidable) issue: • Eurobodalla Shire Council Mayor and Councillors • NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance • NSW Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey • NSW Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard • Federal Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis Madam Premier, as you have ultimate responsibility, I am now making you, fully aware of this increased risk too. I sincerely hope we do not have to wait for someone to die, before this matter is gets the attention it deserves. Request I am calling upon you, as NSW Premier, to immediately and permanently station an ambulance on the north side of the Batemans Bay bridge each and every time the bridge is opened. If your Government is unable or unwilling to take this action, to ensure the safety of Batemans Bay’s northern residents and travellers, then please take the only step available to you, and close the Batemans Bay bridge to water vessels immediately. I await your urgent response. Kylie Clarke Batemans Bay NSW 2536
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