| Geoff Helisma
The Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) is backing the Iluka Ambulance Action Group’s (IAAG) campaign to establish an ambulance station in the town.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis has also pledged his support and promised to continue lobbying the NSW Government to grant IAAG’s wish.
The paramedic association’s secretary, Steve Pearce, said in a media release that “ambulance response times for calls to Iluka were unsatisfactory and an ambulance station was needed to provide emergency health care”.
He said that Mr Gulaptis and Health Minister Brad Hazzard “need look no further than the fight over Coolamon Ambulance Station in southern NSW last year to understand that the government’s model of a volunteer station is unacceptable to paramedics and the community.
“It was unacceptable in Coolamon and it is unacceptable in Iluka,” Mr Pearce said.
The Coolamon station opened in August 2017, with five full-time paramedics and seven volunteers from the local area making up the staff.
However, paramedics fought a successful battle to increase full-time paramedic staffing levels from three to five.
Mr Pearce told the Independent that this ensured that a team of two paramedics was on-call 24 hours a day.
“It’s absolutely critical to work in teams of two,” he said, “to have the same coverage as the rest of NSW.
“The volunteer model has an ability to assist the paramedics, not replace them; they do a fantastic job around the state.”
Mr Pearce said: “Ambulance stations are an essential service to save lives and we don’t want people in Iluka dying because paramedics are travelling 50 kilometres to treat patients having a heart attack.
“The Iluka community deserves its own ambulance station and APA, the paramedics union, is backing them all the way.”