Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Emergency Services talk

Today the kids were stuck inside due to a very welcome downpour of rain all day. I started reading Moby Dick as a serial ( I just love putting on those 'old sea dog' voices when I read aloud) in the morning and I am reading Stuart Little in the afternoon for the grade 4s. They received their own copies of the novel to add to their own personal library and finished them today. One of them remarked to me that the story ended abruptly. I thought so too. Although I have read a bit about EB White and his writing I don't recall any mention of him considering writing a sequel, but if any book ends just screaming out for a sequel it is Stuart Little. ( I'm glad I wasn't the only one to think so) 

My grade 6 students have started work on Moby Dick and seem to be enjoying the story. ( Ahab has just appeared and nailed the doubloon onto the mainmast and made his motley crew promise to die if need be in pursuit of 'the great white whale', a great point to end the reading on. Over this week we'll drawa sailor' kit, design an advertisement for sailors to join the crew of the Pequod- best not mention the mad captain and tomorrow we'll create a gold doubloon with an appropriately chilling oath to go with it.) 

My grade 4 students just finished their ANZAC Day book reports. They completed 4 panel concertina displays ( refer photo below) and they turned out well. 

While the kids were stuck inside playing in the home corner and with some of our construction material I put the finishing touches to my folk tales unit. I will 'road test' it over the next 3-4 weeks and then post it on TPT. I have included: The Magic Porridge Pot, The Enormous Turnip, The Little Red Hen, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Musicians of Bremen and Stone Soup into the unit.I found some great interactive app versions of the stories which I have put on iPads. My grade 2 girl will start off using the unit this week while the other grade 1 and 2 student finish off work on fables.( The Fox and the Boar and The Fox and the Tiger) 

Tonight I attended a talk given by a member of the Ambulance Union and introduced by Sharon Knight from the Ballarat East electorate. At the Ballarat Trades Hall in historic Camp Street.
He discussed the current situation regarding the industrial impasse between the state government and our emergency services ( fire and ambulance) which has been festering now for far too long.( 2 years!) Negotiations started very slowly. The union have had over 50 meetings with the government with no result. An offer made had significant impact on existing conditions and was rightly rejected.He discussed ramping ( where paramedics line up their ambulances with occupants at emergency service entrances at hospitals which don't have enough beds for patients or staff. Currently ambulances are stuck ramping for 13000 hours per month! (Some paramedics can wait with patients for their entire shift) Victorian paramedics are the best trained in Australia but have the lowest pay ( by up to over $20 000 in some instances) He discussed how dangerous the job is now. 10% of paramedics are on work cover currently. The dispatch system needs to be reviewed to reduce the amount of unnecessary call outs.Paramedics need to have the right to reject transporting people who don't require an ambulance.There needs to be more beds and staff in hospitals.Better health services are required through better state and federal government funding are required. 

Fire fighters are also under stress. A spokesperson from the United FireFighters Union talked to us about the challenges. $66 million cut out of the budget. Extra firefighters promised as a result of the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires were approved ( 300+ extra firefighters with more to come) But with the change of government there has been no increase in firefighters, no new equipment ( although new trucks are sitting idle because there are no crews) and an attack on firefighter conditions.
 Firefighters in Ballarat need more equipment and person ell but the CFA have said no because they don't have the money. CFA response time in Ballarat is supposed to be 8 minutes ( containing the fire to the room of origin and maximise the ability to rescue people) Ballarat does not have the resources to meet that timeline.The Government ( using fire levy money, paid by rate payers)  have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to the Federal Court to reduce staffing endangering lives. The MFB wants to reduce conditions ( especially safety requirements) and are going to court to try and achieve this. There are regional towns which do not have adequate fire service and the union will be campaigning hard to get their issues addressed.
The plight of our emergency services looks like being a big issue in the next state election in November.

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