The Riverina’s newest ambulance station has claimed another win, mere months after its launch.
Coolamon station officer Krissy Jeffrey said she didn’t think anyone – including residents – had realised how needed the service had been, until November.
The Riverina paramedic said it was great to be part of the regional success, with the group of tight-knit paramedics rushing to about 55 emergencies every month.
That’s close to 400 jobs in about eight months.
The achievement has largely attributed to the tireless dedication and commitment of the station’s inaugural chief, who was in May named the Ambulance NSW employee of the month.
Ms Jeffrey said the station’s victories had been and continued to be a team effort.
But there was a time, when it was feared this may not be the case.
It follows months of heated debate between Ambulance NSW and the Australian Paramedics Association, over the contentious decision to operate Coolamon station with a blended volunteer model.
Under the initial plans, three qualified paramedics were set to be supported by a ten-day-trained volunteer unit, with only one full-time paramedic on the front line at all times.
This predicted lack of qualified paramedics posted at Coolamon initially raised alarms, with the president of the Australian Paramedics Association last year claiming the decision would “put lives at risk”.
But the decision was in August overturned, with five full-time paramedics – instead of three – set to man the station, assisted by a number of trained volunteers.
Ms Jeffrey said the additional staff and resources had not only benefited the small town, it had provided a boost to surrounding areas, that would otherwise be more than 30 minutes from help.
“We’ve had multiple life-saving jobs in Coolamon,” Ms Jeffrey said. “They would have had to wait for an ambulance from somewhere else if we weren’t here.”
Ms Jeffrey said paramedics had attended multiple cases involving motor vehicle accidents, strokes, heart attacks, major trauma and farm related incidents since November.
“You wonder how we did it before,” she said. “It shows the need was there.”
Ms Jeffrey said a growing population meant more paramedics were always needed across the board, but she said the Coolamon station had come as a big relief for the region.