OPINION: Let's take care of our paramedics

THEY are there in our darkest hours and were voted our most trusted profession for consecutive years – so isn’t it time to give back a little to our paramedics?

About five months ago this newspaper revealed a push from the NSW Australian Paramedics Association for urgent maintenance in ambulance stations across the New England region.

Coincidentally, their public campaign began on the same day the Tamworth city ambulance station turned 100 years old.

The Tamworth station is one of three new stations the APA is pushing for, with Wee Waa and Ashford at the top of the list.

At many of the others, there are claims of water damage, air conditioning issues, painted shut windows, rat faeces blowing onto carpet and general wear and tear.

In some other cases the number of paramedics had simply outgrown these stations.

Like any large organisation, these issues take time to resolve with many different levels of the agency involved in the process. 

And of course it can lengthy.

But our paramedics say they are at their wits’ end with the process with some issues taking years to fix.

However, local APA delegates say that as of this week they are hopeful there is a break through in their plight and as a priority urgent safety issues would be addressed.

Scott Clarke is one of them. He hopes there will be new infrastructure for paramedics in the bush, given the state government’s interest in new stadiums in Sydney that, for obvious reasons, come at a much higher cost.

After months of lobbying, the issue came to breaking-point when the APA and NSW Ambulance went head to head at the Industrial Relations Commission.

In talks this week, there appears to be a little more light at the end of the tunnel with a local working group formed to identify the pressing issues.

The union says it is making a list of priorities in which NSW Ambulance has a timeline to achieve before it heads back to the commission at the end of next month.

Could these long standing issues be resolved within the next 50 days? We can only hope so.

Our paramedics, like any of our front line emergency services, put their own troubles aside to assist the community on a daily basis.

It is only fitting that they have the working conditions they deserve.