Am­bu­lance brawl over vol­un­teers threat­ens to get bloody

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

A FIGHT over an am­bu­lance sta­tion in a tiny NSW town is about to spread across the state, af­ter fu­ri­ous paramedics are ready to en­force work bans.

Af­ter years of lob­by­ing the state gov­ern­ment for an am­bu­lance sta­tion, the res­i­dents of Coola­mon, about 40km north­west of Wagga Wagga, were granted their wish with a $1.5 mil­lion build­ing to be com­pleted in Septem­ber. But the usual con­tin­gent of five paramedics will be re­duced to three, with the re­main­ing po­si­tions filled by un­paid vol­un­teers.

While the vol­un­teers will have firstaid train­ing, Aus­tralian Para­medic As­so­ci­a­tion NSW pres­i­dent Steve Pearce said they did not have the nec­es­sary skills to en­sure the safety of pa­tients.

He said paramedics were con­cerned the staffing model would set a prece­dent for fu­ture sta­tions, with an in­creas­ing reliance on vol­un­teers. “I’ve been on a job where a vol­un­teer has frozen at the scene, be­cause they were not able to deal with the sit­u­a­tion,” Mr Pearce said.

The union is dis­cus­sion im­pos­ing statewide work bans, in­clud­ing a re­fusal to take billing de­tails of pa­tients un­less the state gov­ern­ment backs down.

NSW Am­bu­lance Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Alex Car­de­nas said the staffing model was based on Coola­mon Shire which had less than one pa­tient med­i­cal call out per day. How­ever, the ser­vice would con­tinue to en­gage with the para­medic unions over the is­sue, he said.

“The staffing en­hance­ment of three paramedics plus NSW Am­bu­lance trained and qual­i­fied Vol­un­teer Am­bu­lance Of­fi­cers is a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment as there have never been am­bu­lance ser­vices in Coola­mon,” he said.

Steve Pearce.

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