When Brad Blackburn had an attack and fell down while he was at work, his wife Kaylene called an ambulance. Little did they know, they were about to become victims of cutbacks.
“The ambulance arrived. It took about 20 minutes to get here, and when he got here he was alone. I needed numerous amounts of morphine to get the pain under control,” Brad Blackburn said.
“By that time I was in the ambulance but I was stuck on the side of the road, because he didn’t have anyone with him.
“They dispatched an ambulance from Junee to come to us, but on the way to town they got called to something more important.”
A third ambulance was dispatched from Lockhart, which took an hour to arrive.
“Darren Rudd was the ambulance officer who attended to me. He was so apologetic, but he was absolutely fantastic. He did everything in his power to calm me and assure me everything was alright even though I was in great pain,” Mr Blackburn said.
Mr Blackburn’s condition, Trigeminal Neuralgia, strikes without warning and causes intense, stabbing, electric shock-like pain.
“It’s like firecrackers and lightning going off inside your head and it is so intense it puts you on the ground. It’s like a rapid-fire migraine cluster times ten, and that’s not downgrading the intense pain of migraines,” he said.
Steven Pearce from the Australian Paramedics Association said sadly, this is happening all too often in Wagga.
“The sad thing is we have enough paramedics coming through with degrees who want to work, but the NSW Government is not creating the positions even though they have a surplus,” Mr Pearce said.
The union said Wagga has the same amount of paramedics since the 1980’s, yet the workload has gone up more than 400 per cent.
“We’ve been asking for an extra 500 positions, but they’re only funding 50. Put it this way, for Wagga to get just two more staffed ambulances, which we desperately need, we would have to have 11 staff just to do it,” Mr Pearce said.
“What if I was having a heart attack? They didn't know that when they dispatched him on his own and so we were stuck here,” Mr Blackburn said.
Mr Blackburn said Wagga is facing a ticking time-bomb.
“Someone is going to die because we simply don’t have enough soldiers on the ground,” he said.