Ambulance call outs rise while politicians argue whose tougher on drugs.
I have regularly said that drug users and addicts are just fodder in the political world and they are treated as chess pieces for politicians in their never ending game of gathering voters. But when I read this article in the CourierMail I felt there was something I was missing . Then it struck me. The politicians involved were so tied up in their political games that they forgot to even try to appear sincere.
Drug-Related Paramedic Callouts Up 15 Per Cent
PARAMEDICS are treating more than 30 Queenslanders a day for drug-related conditions including overdoses, a rise of 15 per cent in two years.
New figures reveal that ambulance officers across the state attended 11,429 cases involving drug-affected people last year.
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said the figures were proof the Government was not doing enough to tackle the growing problem of drugs in the community.
He called for a review of drug awareness campaigns to ensure they were targeting the problem.
"We've known for years that Queensland is the amphetamine capital of Australia and these figures show the problem is getting worse and yet this government has sat on its hands," Mr Springborg said.
"We need zero tolerance to drugs, harsher penalties for people caught trafficking and supplying drugs, and money spent on better drug awareness campaigns rather than on ads promoting the Government."
But Police Minister Judy Spence rejected the Opposition's suggestion the Government was soft on drugs.
Ms Spence said about 10 per cent of prisoners in Queensland were jailed for drug offences. "The Government and the Queensland Police Service are continually increasing our resources and arrests with respect to drugs, and Queensland Health run continuous drug awareness campaigns," she said.
"Parents and indeed all members of the community need to join with government to help society understand that far from being harmless and recreational, illicit and illegal drugs can lead to hefty fines, prison sentences and in the cases of drug use, death."
The war of words follows the tragic case of Rosie Bebendorf, 28, who died on New Year's Day after taking two ecstasy tablets allegedly bought from a Fortitude Valley nightclub.
Her grieving parents have pleaded with young people to stay away from party drugs.
Kroy Day of the union representing ambulance workers said the latest figures supported anecdotal evidence that paramedics were dealing with more drug cases.
But he said drug and alcohol abuse had always been part of their workload, and paramedics were more concerned about the growing level of violence associated with drug use.
"The Government has increased penalties for people who assault officers but what we don't want is people to be deterred from calling us (to cases involving drugs)," he said.
"We're not interested in being a police force. They will only be called if there is a safety issue for our members."
The latest figures, obtained by the Opposition through a Question on Notice, revealed paramedics attended 11,429 drug-related cases including overdoses in 2007-08, compared to 11,214 the previous year and 9907 in 2005-06.
With ambulance call outs rising in Queensland, there was no mention of what health factors are involved or whether contaminated drugs were hitting the streets. No mention that people were dying or dropping like flies. The only concern of the opposition was which party was toughest on drugs!
New figures reveal that ambulance officers across the state attended 11,429 cases involving drug-affected people last year. Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said the figures were proof the Government was not doing enough to tackle the growing problem of drugs in the community.
Why is it that at every mention of a drug related issue, politicians feel the need to appear "tough on drugs"? Even with more people being rushed to hospital, the only solution for these boneheads is to announce tougher measures.
"We've known for years that Queensland is the amphetamine capital of Australia and these figures show the problem is getting worse and yet this government has sat on its hands," Mr Springborg said. "We need zero tolerance to drugs, harsher penalties for people caught trafficking and supplying drugs, and money spent on better drug awareness campaigns rather than on ads promoting the Government."
Queensland Opposition Leader, Lawrence Springborg is a twat. A slippery, sleazy self serving twat. Capitalising on the issue of people overdosing or being rushed to hospital and then transforming it into a point scoring slanging match is not acceptable from someone in his position. Apart from being a reflection on his priorities, it shows his lack of values that is so common for many of our politicians. This type of behaviour is becoming increasingly obvious to the public as merely political posturing and considering it involved people’s lives, Springborg deserves any contempt he receives . Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence is also a twat. The issue of growing ambulance call out rates somehow got lost in her response to the opposition’s rant. In a contest of who’s toughest on drugs and crime, she proudly stated that 10% of prisoners were in for drug offences and the arrest rate was growing. WTF?!?! During this period of prison overcrowding. concerns for the sentencing wars between political foes and the question of whether sending drug addicts to jail is self defeating, Judy Spence’s response shows how out of touch she is with the world outside Queensland.
But Police Minister Judy Spence rejected the Opposition's suggestion the Government was soft on drugs. Ms Spence said about 10 per cent of prisoners in Queensland were jailed for drug offences. "The Government and the Queensland Police Service are continually increasing our resources and arrests with respect to drugs, and Queensland Health run continuous drug awareness campaigns," she said.
Her proud approach of punitive actions and the flippant referrals to real life consequences are scary, to say the least. Note the casual addition of ‘minor’ issues like drug awareness campaigns and oh, yeah, if you’re not caught and jailed you might also die.
"Parents and indeed all members of the community need to join with government to help society understand that far from being harmless and recreational, illicit and illegal drugs can lead to hefty fines, prison sentences and in the cases of drug use, death".
-Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence
Recently, there has been some widely publicised cases of people failing to ring an ambulance for a drug overdose due to the fear of involving police. A coroner’s finding into the drug overdose of Queenslander, Melanie Boyd found that her death could have been avoided if an ambulance was called.
After taking drugs, Melanie Boyd was left without medical help after her friends decided not to ring an ambulance for fear of getting in trouble with police. Coroner Brian Smith made five strong recommendations, including an awareness campaign that calling an ambulance does not automatically mean police would be involved. He called on the Queensland Ambulance Service to consider the distribution of a pamphlet called 'calling for an ambulance when illicit drugs have been taken' to avoid similar situations. The need to be able to call an ambulance without fear of legal action is vital and has become common practice worldwide. I doubt if this mattered though during the latest chest beating event from Lawrence Springborg and Judy Spence.
Readers Comments: As usual, there was a barrage of inane comments from some brain dead readers.
compulsory reporting to the police if you go to an emergency room with an OD. if you choose to take the drugs, you should be grown up enough to accept that drugs have got very nasty side effects. none of this weak judiciary not recording convictions, or giving wholly suspended sentences. drug use is a cancer to our society, and we need to fight it as you would fight a cancer - with strength and determination, rather than a wimpish "don't do drugs, kiddies, it's really bad for you".
-Posted by: Andrew of Ipswich
One way of tackling the illegal drug problem is to not treat the scumbags. Once illegal drug use has been identified then they should be left to fend for themselves.
-Posted by: Nickt of Wellington Point
With all the drugs avaible, someone isn't doing their job. More police are needed. We seem to follow the Yanks, or shouldn't say that as it might be raciest, why don't we follow them with their Justice system. Eighty years for murder. What do we give, maybe 10 if they are unlucky.
-Posted by: WELL DONE of Redcliffe
Its an epidemic! Why don't the police follow up and arrest these idiots! -Posted by: adrian of Bris So the ambulance in Brisbane has an increased work load due to drugs and they are just reporting this now? Alcohol is also a drug, why does the media keep separating it? Go to Sydney and Melbourne and see how bad it really is, with 3 times the drug overdoses than Brisbane and the grubby Gold Coast. If people CHOOSE to take drugs leave them to their own devices. Maybe letting a few of these people "go to God" (which of course we wouldn't), might make some of the others wake up to themselves. Many people take drugs knowing the risk of overdose, because they know the ambulance will come if needed, and they will get treatment in a hospital at taxpayers expense. If the services did not attend to theses people's chosen stupid acts, the word would soon spread, and the overdose rate, even drug use, would fall almost immediately. We have to stop wrapping these losers in cotton wool and pampering them, because the "feel good" approach does not work.
-Posted by: Shannon of Brisbane Simple,
The paramedics can treat them then call the Police to charge them with drug offences. After that the cost of the medical treatment should also be recovered due to illness by an illegal substance.
-Posted by: Ron from Albany Creek
Is this just a Queensland police issue under the watchful eye of Police Minister, Judy Spence? Crime is crime, right? On the Queensland Police website, there is a whole page dedicated to the Queensland Police - Party-Safe Program which has information on hosting a party including guidelines, check lists, links to related sites, the Party Safe registration form etc. Considering the recent push to inform the public that ringing an ambulance in a drug related emergency does not necessarily involve police, I expected the message to be given priority. Apart from non-police related contact details for drug counselling services and a warning that drinking alcohol or taking drugs affects your ability to make safe decisions, there was only two other references to drugs or ringing an ambulance:
Party Safe for Guests
Point 5: It is a criminal offence to have illicit drugs including cannabis. You could be charged and convicted. This could involve paying a fine or serving a prison sentence. Your future may be affected as you could have a criminal record for the rest of your life. This could also impact on your future job or travel opportunities.
Party Safe Checklist Point 2: Have relevant telephone numbers available at the party, including the police, ambulance, taxi company and contact details for parents of young people attending.
UPDATE: Terry Sweetman from The CourierMail has also noticed the disgraceful behaviour from Lawrence Springborg and Judy Spence.
Read his great article here