Support our paramedics in the fight against coronavirus
DON'T call an ambulance unless the situation is critical.
That's the desperate message from paramedics across the state, as they call on the government to delcare a state of emergency in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) is encouraging people to regularly check health.gov.au for advice and to ring the COVID-19 hotline as a first point of contact on 1800 020 08.
This comes as paramedics continue to deal with increasing caseloads.
"Paramedics transfer non-emergency and non-urgent patients regularly including patients with suspected cases of COVID-19," a spokesperson from the association said.
"APA (NSW) would ideally like to see highly trained paramedic resources focussed on the emergency cases, which we normally struggle to keep up with.
"We are hearing stories from members about the volume of calls in our Control Centres being higher than on New Year's Eve.
"We are hearing about paramedics arriving to patients without adequate protective equipment due to not being told that the patient they are responding to potentially has coronavirus.
'We are hearing of paramedics not having enough personal protective equipment to last them through their shifts."
US paramedic and the founder of Trek Medics International, Jason Friesen, has worked in countries have limited health resources such as Haiti during the cholera epidemic.
He said we were facing challenging times where the public could greatly assist paramedics by ensuring they only called if it was a critical emergency.
"Ambulances are only helpful for critical, life-threatening situations," he said.
"Calling the ambulance for any other reason is putting yourself, the ambulance crews, and the public at large at greater risk for spreading the outbreak.
"If you call the ambulance when you aren't in a critical, life-threatening situation takes the ambulance away from someone who may be."
"If people keep calling the ambulance for non-critical cases, it seems inevitable that the ambulance system will collapse because all of the personnel will become infected and can't work anymore."
NSW Ambulance has been contacted for comment.