Ambulance denies union claims of '85km' emergency mission

AN AMBULANCE is said to have driven 85-kilometres under lights and sirens between Macksville and Woolgoolga due to a chronic shortage of on-shift Coffs Coast paramedics.

The troublesome emergency response is one of several concerning incidents raised by the Health Services Union.

It came as paramedic union members prepared to mark Yellow Vest Day on Friday - the next step in a statewide campaign to highlight understaffing issues.

On-duty paramedics today wore fluorescent yellow safety vests to draw attention to increasing hours and oppressive workloads.

"One officer recently had to respond on lights and sirens 85 km from Macksville to Woolgoolga," the Health Services Union's Tom Stevanja said.  

Ambulance paramedics claim the incident happened on October 30 at 7.20pm when a Macksville-based ambulance paramedic was tasked to an emergency in Sawtell, due to local crews being tied up at other emergencies.

The ambulance is said to have been diverted while on route on the Pacific Highway to another pressing medical emergency in Coffs Harbour. 

Unable to reach the scene before Coffs Harbour crews were able to respond, the Macksville ambulance was then tasked to a potentially life threatening emergency at Woolgoolga, paramedic sources said.

The NSW Ambulance Service today denied the incident happened.

"The accusation that an ambulance was responded 85kms to Woolgoolga is false," the service said in a statement.  

It said a 000 call was received on October 30, 2012, to treat a male patient who was unwell.

"A senior paramedic who was in the Woolgoolga response area was dispatched, arriving on scene and commencing immediate treatment.

"At the same time, a back-up paramedic was dispatched from Coffs Harbour.

"Both paramedics transported the patient to Coffs Harbour Base Hospital in a stable condition."


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