HSU ambulance division sub branch president concerned about availability of ambulances for Highlanders

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Available ambulances in the Southern Highlands remains an ongoing issue.

Health Services Union (HSU) ambulance division South West Sydney sub branch president Matt Anderson said every week there were times when there were no paramedics available to respond in the Highlands.

He said this was often the case due to ambulances sent out of  the Highlands to cover other areas or for patient transport.

Over the past few weeks, Southern Highland News has been told there has been a shortage of ambulances available in the region on several occasions.

But Ambulance NSW has defended its staffing roster.

A spokesperson denied claims of staffing issues on July 22 and 23.

“In addition to our normal rostered crews, an additional two surge crews were available to respond to emergency calls in the South Western Sydney zone,” they said.

“Furthermore, two Community First Responder (CFR) units were available at Bundanoon and Canyonleigh.”

The spokesperson said due to the mobile nature of paramedics, crews often moved across areas.

The South West Sydney area covers from Bankstown to Bowral.

But Mr Anderson said that crews could be deployed from as far as Campbelltown and Camden.

“To add to the problem, Bowral Hospital is classed as a local hospital and frequently requires paramedic crews to transport patients to other hospitals including Liverpool and Campbelltown.”

While CFR units may be available to support NSW Ambulance crews, Mr Anderson said they could not transport patients.

This situation occurred on August 7 when a Bundanoon CFR unit responded to a patient in Bowral who reported a fast heartbeat.

NSW Ambulance assistant deputy director operations South West Sydney Illawarra Richard Cohen said at the time two rostered paramedic crews were attending other patients, including a man who had collapsed.

“The benefits of qualified volunteers working alongside paramedics is clear,” he said.

“If rostered paramedics are already responding to other medical emergencies our medically trained and qualified CFR volunteers can be responded and provide care until paramedics arrive.”