Paramedics take fury to Coota by-election

Steve Pearce and Alan Patterson at the station.
Steve Pearce and Alan Patterson at the station.

DISGRUNTLED paramedics have vowed to hijack the upcoming Cootamundra by-election in wake of Coolamon Ambulance Station’s “short-sighted, penny-pinching” volunteer model.

NSW Ambulance’s proposal to man the new $1 million dollar facility with only three full time paramedics and a group of volunteers has been taken to the Industrial Relations Commission. 

Australian Paramedics Association (APA) president and Riverina-based paramedic Steve Pearce was adamant the decision will cost lives.

“Make no mistake, the people of Coolamon and surrounds will needlessly die or suffer unnecessarily as a direct result of this short-sighted, money saving measure,” he said. 

“This is simply putting patient safety at risk and we will be telling voters to reject this idea at the upcoming Cootamundra by-election.

“Retiring Nationals MP Katrina Hodgkinson was hoodwinked by NSW Ambulance bureaucrats into believing volunteers would be able to do the jobs of properly trained paramedics.”

He said both Coolamon’s and Wagga’s community deserved to have two paramedics on duty around the clock.

“With a record surplus in the bank, the NSW Government can afford to properly man front-line services and Gladys Berejiklian needs to find the political will to make it happen,” Mr Pearce said. 

It comes after whistleblower paramedic John Larter – who publicly criticised NSW Ambulance’s plans for Coolamon – was threatened with disciplinary action. 

In a letter to NSW Ambulance obtained by The Daily Advertiser, Mr Larter claimed executives contradicted themselves.  

“I wrote an 18 page letter to the Chief Executive in June last year and haven’t received a response and you are calling my conduct into question,” he said.

“If it’s misconduct for me, why are union spokespersons immune.”

NSW Ambulance stands by its proposal, rejecting claims Coolamon Ambulance Station would not be adequately staffed.