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It was a nice sunny Wednesday morning, and I was out riding my bike, punishing myself for my sins, when I came across something on the ground.

At first I thought it was a bag full of old clothes someone had thoughtfully dumped on the bike track, but as I closed in, it became apparent that this was not the case.

The object blocking my path was a man lying on the path. It was a hot morning and he was wearing trackie daks, and a thick parka jacket, the type with the fake fur on the inside.

When I ride I tend to listen to angry music rather loud on my headphones, I think it makes me go faster, this day was no different. On this particular morning my head was full of Slayer. Having a band like Slayer belting out songs about death, corpses, disease, and bodies in your head tends to make you imagine the worst when you come across a body laid out on the ground in front of you…..

Fortunately upon closer inspection, although unconscious, the man was at least  breathing. That was a relief.

Not knowing what to do next, I rang 000 and was put through to the ambulance service. What I was told then was truly shocking, and rather depressing.

The lady I spoke to was great, she told me what to do while waiting for the ambulance, as I had no idea. The ambulance took about 15 minutes to arrive, which I was impressed with in peak hour traffic. Whilst waiting the lady on the phone got me to check his airways (icky) and lay him in the correct position to keep his airway clear.

The shocking part, is that she had me repeat the address and my details 3 times. When I asked why she explained it was because of the number of prank or fake callouts they receive.

I’m sorry, but when did we degenerate to this level as a society? To prank the Ambulance service is about as low as you can get. This is wasting the time and valuable resources of one of the most necessary services that we have provided for us.

Nobody in their right mind calls for an ambulance unless it is truly needed. I don’t know what the penalty is for such a low act, but whatever it is it should be tripled. These idiotic pranks have the potential to cost lives. Any death caused by this should see the perpetrator hunted down and charged with murder, or at least manslaughter. To knowingly cause a delay to an ambulance is intent in my eyes.

Anyway, back to the unconscious bloke….

The Ambo’s arrived and straight away knew who he was, and brought him back to consciousness. The man was a known local psychiatric patient. Apparently he was found unconscious in the same place the previous day.

That made me feel quite sad for the poor fellow. I don’t know who, if anyone, is supposed to be caring for him, but clearly it is not working.

Mental Health is one of the most under resourced services in our community. There is a stigma attached to it which is just plain ignorant.

Our ambulance services spend far too much time cleaning up after this under resourced industry. This is costing money and probably lives more alarmingly. If the Mental Health services lack funding due to the stigma, which would be just plain childish, then consider it as inadvertently funding the ambulance service.

I hope that the O’Farrell Government in NSW understands that Mental Health services are a vital part of our community, and I hope that this is not one of the areas he is looking to take the axe to, as these services require government assistance.

I am thoroughly sick of the apathy surrounding this issue. The commercial press seem to avoid shining a light on this matter like they would avoid a independent media enquiry. It is about time people stood up and showed they give a damn, maybe then the issue would get the attention it deserves.

This is not meant as a shot at the NSW Liberal Government by any means.

Under the Kenneally Labor NSW Government, the Disabled Services sector, which included the Mental Health Services sector, received the largest funds injection that these sectors have ever seen in any state, or nationally for that matter. This was part of the Kenneally Governments Health policy, and was due to the hard work of the previous Minister For Disabled Services, Peter Primrose, and the previous Minister For Health Carmel Tebbutt.

My hope is that the new Liberal Government, will follow the lead that has been set  for them, and continue to support these vital services.

We will be watching and hoping that you do not let us down on this matter Barry. Because if you do, it is our most vulnerable that will suffer.

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