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What price a life?

Letter to the Editor

What price a life? There are renewed calls for the NSW Government to put it’s hand in it’s pocket and station an ambulance on the north side of the Batemans Bay bridge, to reduce delays in ambulances assisting residents and travellers north just north of the Batemans Bay Bridge.

Residents are calling for an ambulance to be stationed just north of the Batemans Bay bridge:

a) every time the Batemans Bay bridge is lifted for boats to pass; and

b) all day when there is heavy traffic, like long weekends, Easter and Christmas peak traffic periods.

If there is gridlock like there was yesterday, 28th January 2018, or the bridge gets stuck for between 1 and 3 hours as it has in the recent past, ambulance contingency plans would see an extra delay of around 20-40 minutes in getting an ambulance to critical patients. Do we have to wait till someone dies before this matter is taken seriously?


1) The Batemans Bay bridge is now 60 years old, and has a proven track record of unreliability when being opened to allow tall vessels 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. With 3 years of construction, this means our community has approximately 4 years, 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 ambulance contingency plans involve sending backup ambulances from Braidwood or Ulladulla. Braidwood is an hour away from Batemans Bay. Ulladulla is 40 minutes away and newspapers reported that it is already short on vehicles for their own local needs. In either case, this could result in a minimum of 20 minutes above and beyond the normal wait time. In life and death situations, every minute counts.

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 passage” 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 for the Merinda and up to twice a MONTH for other boats. This right of way is because Nelligen is still deemed a “port” even though it no longer serves as one as transport of food and timber logs no longer goes through Nelligen. Therefore this “right of way” is now irrelevant in 2017. This “right of way” can (and should) be rescinded by authorised NSW Government representatives.

4) I have written to each of the following Government representatives to ensure they are aware of this avoidable risk:

· 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

· NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian

5) The NSW is rolling in cash – even they admit it. So if someone suffers complications or death because the NSW Government CHOOSE not to mitigate this risk, not only will this be a breach of duty of care, but each of the above representatives will be held fully responsible for negligence.


Ministers Pavey, Hazzard and Constance: What price a life??? Please tell the residents of north Batemans Bay, IF AND WHEN you are prepared to reduce the risk to our lives, by stationing an ambulance just north of the bridge:

a) every time the Batemans Bay bridge is lifted for boats to pass; and

b) all day when there is heavy traffic, like Australia Day Long Weekend, Easter and Christmas peak traffic periods.

Kylie Clarke

North Batemans Bay

#Opinion #BatemansBay

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