Fairfield’s paramedics will soon be operating from Bankstown Ambulance Superstation, in a move that has been met with anger from local politicians and community members.
NSW Ambulance is currently redeveloping the service into the $150m Paramedic Response Network Program, which operates on a ‘hub and spoke’ model with a major station hosting all the ambulances, supported by smaller ‘Paramedic Response Points’, or PRPs, across suburbs.
Initial indications showed that the Fairfield Ambulance Station would be assigned to the Liverpool ambulance superstation, under construction on Hoxton Park Road.
However, Fairfield paramedics have been assigned to Bankstown superstation, under construction at 96 Canterbury Road – approximately 14 kilometres away from Fairfield City.
Sources have raised serious concerns to the Champion that relocating paramedics from the current station on Mitchell Street, off The Horsley Drive, out to Bankstown will leave the Fairfield community vulnerable.
A source told the Champion that Fairfield paramedics are “very unhappy and angry” about the proposal, and said that paramedics are “concerned that there will be an adverse event” following the implementation of the program.
Having clocked on at Bankstown, paramedics will have to drive back to the superstation to restock on critical medical supplies or collect a clean ambulance.
NSW Ambulance director of the paramedic response network program Clare Beech told the Champion that “modelling had identified [Fairfield’s current station] is in a good geographical position”.
“Fairfield Ambulance Station is not closing, [it] will continue to be a Paramedic Response Point,” she said.
“There are a number of other services coming into Fairfield Ambulance Station, we’re enhancing our fleet maintenance service at Fairfield, so it’s far from closing.”
Ms Beech emphasised that the changes were designed to make the service “more dynamic and more responsive” and to provide better services to the entire community.
She stressed that the ‘hub and spoke’ model was focused on strengthening the paramedic network across the region and would not change the number of paramedic services across Fairfield.
“Of the callouts that Fairfield paramedics attend, only 40% of them are within the Fairfield area,” she said.
“60% of callouts are outside the area.
“As is the case now, the closest available paramedic will always respond to a medical emergency, regardless of where the paramedic starts or finishes shift.”
The reassignment of Fairfield’s paramedics to Bankstown means that they will be amalgamated into the superstation’s staff and will respond to call-outs across the whole region, not just Fairfield.
However, a source said this amalgamation disregards the value of paramedics’ local knowledge – knowledge that can shave minutes off an emergency response time.
Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone said that the proposal to send Fairfield’s paramedics to Bankstown was “too far.”
“In many instances the ambulances are the first to respond to critical matters, they are vitally important – not only that they are available, but that they are able to actually arrive as soon as possible,” he said.
“I’m very very concerned and I urge all out state MPs … and the State Government to not let this happen.”
Fairfield MP and Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Guy Zangari, told the Champion that he is “very concerned” about Fairfield’s paramedics being reassigned.
“This is indicative of a government that is arrogant and just not listening,” he said.
“It’s as simple as that. They’re not listening to the people who are the professionals delivering vital emergency services to the community.
“If the superstation is 12 kilometres away from where it currently is, you have to add possibly another 10 kilometres to that if you’re in the other extremities of Fairfield.
“When it comes to an emergency, every moment counts.
“This could be the difference between a person who lives or loses their life, simple as that.”
Construction of the Bankstown superstation is expected to be completed in 2017.