Editorial | Action needed to protect paramedics

NOW is the time for action. 

For too long the region’s paramedics have lamented the state of their ambulance stations and their working conditions.

An Australian Paramedics Association (APA) delegate, Gunnedah ambo Scott Clarke, revealed to The Leader last month that New England paramedics were rostered on without vehicles, working in out-of-date and rat-infested stations, and driving to urgent call-outs without radio service.

It followed a $4.5 billion budget surplus announced by the NSW government in June.

There were claims that windows were painted shut, rat faeces found in the air-conditioning ducts, leaking roofs and a red back spider problem across several New England ambulance stations. 

Some locally-based vehicles that travelled around Willow Tree, Murrurundi and Woolomin “essentially have no radio communications whatsoever”.

Since the allegations came to light, Ambulance NSW responded with budget funding to bring four more relief paramedics to the area as well as maintenance work.

A NSW Ambulance spokesman confirmed maintenance issues were dealt with “on a priority basis”.

It’s difficult to imagine what could be more pressing than the state of the stations that they APA talks about. 

But on Monday, local paramedics made some headway in their fight for urgent station maintenance and improved working conditions when they met with Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson to lay on the table some “outstanding issues”.

The APA is now also calling for findings of an Ambulance NSW-issued report on the state of the buildings and infrastructure in the area.

Mr Anderson has vowed to work with the union delegates, and is keen to read the report to determine what issues need fixing. 

Now is the time for action. 

“I've asked them to come back to me with specific information or specific concerns about the infrastructure maintenance problems they believe is ongoing in ambulance stations in our region,” Mr Anderson said.

The stage is now set for the next step forward – and it’s one that should leave our paramedics feeling like they’re being protected. These guys are on the frontline around the clock. They’re there to help and protect us in our darkest hours. 

It’s time for those at the top to not only listen, but act on these concerns.