If there is one word that best sums up the past year for our clinicians, control staff and indeed all of NSW Ambulance, this is probably it.
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to test our workforce and then there were also the multiple, devastating floods which brought communities to their knees across NSW at different times of the year.
It’s fair to say, Mother Nature has certainly made life difficult for our workforce in 2022 – and that’s before we consider how challenging the day-to-day job is for our staff without these added disrupters.
That being said, there is a lot of good that comes from being challenged as well.
Our staff have shown a tremendous amount of resilience this year,” Chief Executive Dr Dominic Morgan said.
“I have marvelled at how well different parts of our service have worked together when faced with the challenges put before us, and they have done so while showing improvement along the way. “Looking ahead, our staff should be encouraged and excited by the growing, positive impact of the Virtual Clinical Centre (VCCC); the ongoing development of our new home, the State Operations Centre (SOC) at Sydney Olympic Park; and of course, the NSW Government’s $1.76 billion investment to transform our frontline services over the next four years, including funding for 2128 staff, 30 new stations and hundreds of new ambulance vehicles for our service.
“We also launched the Next Normal Workforce Strategy 2022, which forms the framework for NSW Ambulance’s future. While it has been a difficult 12 months, it’s success stories like these ones – and there are many more I could list – which will see NSW Ambulance enter the New Year in a better position than it has ever been in before.
“I want to thank you all for your unwavering commitment to your colleagues, your patients and the wider community over the past year. I hope you enjoy some well-deserved time with your loved ones during the festive period.”
Current COVID-19 State IMT Incident Controller Steve Vaughan, and his wife Ange Vaughan, Coordinator of End of Life & Palliative Care, are looking forward to some quality family time with their two children, Hamish, 10, and Audrey, 8, over Christmas and New Year.
“It has been quite challenging at times this year with the workload,” Steve said. “I think we’re both looking forward to distancing ourselves a bit from work and using this time to create some memories with our kids, whether it be jumping in the car and going somewhere or even just sitting at home and watching a movie.”
Ange believed a lot of good could be taken away from this year – for both her family and the workforce – when compared to 2021. “I think this year has been about adaptation,” she said.
“As a family we have adapted to a new-look work environment, as well as schooling for the kids. There is hope going forward, whereas the year before everything was unknown.
“Work-wise, NSW Ambulance has responded to the challenges and created some great innovations too.”
For the likes of Katie Simpson, COVID-19 didn’t just impact how she worked – it led to her changing careers too. After being a paramedic for seven years, Katie became a dispatcher in Sydney Control Centre in February. Katie made the switch in part to meet the needs of her young children – Isabelle, 5, and Oliver, 3, who were both diagnosed with autism in the last 18 months.
“I’ve really enjoyed seeing the other side of the organisation by being in the Control Centre,” she said.
“The change has been a really refreshing reset for me and Control has been really supportive of my situation and flexibility with my shifts.”
Katie, who is rostered to work on 25 December, said she will be celebrating Christmas Day three days later with her children.
“I’m used to having Christmas on a different day, as my father was a firefighter. I’m definitely looking forward to it because this is the first year my children understand what Christmas is about. They’ve gone and picked out what decorations they want for our tree and they will be taking part in Christmas carols, which is great for children with autism as music can be very therapeutic.”
Others looking forward to the festive season are A/Inspector Dylan Snape and his aspiring paramedic son, three-year-old Hudson.
Dylan said his son has only ever lived in pandemic times, but he was hopeful that the New Year will coincide with some light at the end of tunnel for his son and the rest of his family.
“It has been an insightful experience,” Dylan said. “When you have kids you want them to experience the most of what they can in life at a young age. COVID-19 has been a big inhibitor to this, but now Hudson can start to look forward to going to things like sporting events and restaurants.”
“I’m working on Christmas Day, but looking forward to celebrating it a few days later with my family, which along with Hudson, includes my wife Natalie, newborn daughter Harper; and stepchildren Scarlett, Xara and Maddison.
“I’m also feeling positive going into the New Year with regards to COVID-19. There have been advances in vaccinations as well as preventative measures. The general population has a better understanding now of the importance of physical distancing and good hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the first place.
“If we keep doing our part to look after one another, I’m confident we can all get through this.”