Two intensive care paramedics from Helensburgh to Ulladulla is not sufficient and “could cost lives” according to a senior Illawarra paramedic.
The Australian Paramedics Association (APA) said recent changes by NSW Ambulance means no intensive care paramedic [ICP] positions will be advertised in the almost 200 kilometre stretch, and that if an ICP relocates to the area their qualification will mean nothing.
“This is an absurd situation that we believe could cost lives,” APA NSW vice president Glenn Congram said.
“It is a complete waste of time and money for these highly qualified ICPs to be forced to revert back to a standard paramedic status, unable to use their advanced life-saving skills.
“Any qualified ICPs who transfer to the area are being stripped of their $3 per hour allowance.”
Mr Congram said ICPs are permitted to continue practising in the area, without increased remuneration, however their status is being stripped at three yearly recertification.
NSW Ambulance doesn't consider people in Wollongong, the Illawarrra or Shoalhaven are worth an extra $3 an hour to save their life.
Alarmingly, Mr Congram made reference to cases where qualified paramedics had upskilled to become an ICP, only to be refused a position in the region and transferred to Sydney.
Mr Congram said the region is lucky to have a number of senior staff, but he is worried for the future.
“With older paramedics retiring there has been a decrease in the number of ICPs and advanced life support services within the Wollongong, Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions,” Mr Congram said.
The region is losing some of its “best up and coming paramedics” as they reach this career road block and are forced relocate to Sydney, he said.
At his “wit’s end” Mr Congram said the APA had been forced to ask the community to come to their defense “before NSW Ambulance deskills the entire area”.
Mr Congram wants people to contact their state member and demand the government reach into its pocket and foot the bill for these “greatly needed” positions.
“We think it’s worth an extra $3 an hour to save a life, but do they?” he asked.
NSW Ambulance has been contacted for comment.