Whether it be working in towns where roads are completely cut off from the outside world or being involved in potentially life-saving rescues, our paramedics have shown incredible resilience during the recent NSW floods.
Several parts of the state have been severely flood-affected since last month, with the Central West and north-eastern NSW among the worst-affected.
But despite the challenges posed by the flooding, our regional paramedics have done what they do best: help service their communities in any way they can.
While Cowra itself hasn’t been severely affected, the surrounding townships have. Cowra Station, which is staffed with an Ambulance Rescue unit as well as general duty paramedics, have worked together with other rescue agencies to carry out several rescues. One of those took place at Gooloogong, where two Ambulance Rescue paramedics – who are swift water-trained – were required to rescue a man who was stuck in his vehicle in the middle of a river. “We were called to just over a dozen flood rescues,” Ambulance Rescue Station Officer Tom Doolan said.
“The impact locally was an increase in an Ambulance Rescue and Special Operations response for flood, swift water and four-wheel drive access to patients.
“There is certainly a strong element of professional satisfaction for the whole team, and that’s definitely for the non-rescue staff as well as the rescue staff.”
As is the case in times of need, Tom said there was a strong, coordinated response to the floods from all emergency rescue agencies involved.
The same can be said in Condobolin, where local paramedics helped treat two boys who found themselves in strife when they attempted to swim across a floodaffected river.
Fortunately, a local police officer was able to rescue them.
And, being a tight-knit community, a party was organised after the rescue to celebrate the efforts of those involved.
For many small towns, like Condobolin, flooding presented added challenges with the forced closure of many roads. “Logistics is the biggest issue we have had to face,” Condobolin Station Officer David Truscott said.
“Our maternity hospital is just over an hour away in Forbes, but all roads to Forbes have been closed, so we had to travel an additional half hour on another road to get there.”
At Wee Waa, in north-eastern NSW, the entire township was isolated following the closure of all roads due to flooding.
While this has placed some limitations on how far the local paramedics can move, Wee Waa Station’s Acting Station Officer Donna Phillips said it hasn’t stopped them helping out their local community in other ways. “It’s such a close-knit little community that has such a can-do attitude,” she said.
“We have been helping with deliveries and getting things off boats for the local IGA… just doing a bit of community service other than being ambos. “You’re a part of a community out here, you do what you need to.”
Inspector Adam Parker – who oversees Dubbo, Tottenham and Warren stations – said there had been significant flooding to parts of the Central West. “Warren has been one of the most significantly flood-affected areas in the west,” he said.
“A lot of the roads around there have been flooded, and the majority of unsealed roads have been cut off in and around Tottenham and Narromine too.” Adam said he was proud of the way regional paramedics had rallied together to support each other, their communities and fellow emergency service workers during the floods.
“The resilience of our workforce is amazing,” he said. “Everyone has stepped up. Locally in the smaller stations we rely heavily on the station officers for real-time local updates.
Our station officers, who are living in these smaller communities, spend a lot of time engaging with other agencies like police, the SES and the RFS. In representing NSW Ambulance, they're providing a coordinated response at the local level.
“They work above and beyond to support their communities.”