While the vast majority of COVID-19 cases in western NSW are in Dubbo, which is the region's largest community, the effects of the pandemic are also being felt in more remote areas –with cases reported as far west as Broken Hill, and in other outback towns including Bourke.

Dubbo paramedics Siobhan Crowther and Felicity Cameron.

One of the Duty Operations Managers based in Dubbo, Inspector Adam Parker, said while it is a challenging time for the entire community, paramedics have shown resilience and a true sense of community spirit.

“I think the team has responded extremely well, as paramedics always do when faced with a challenge,”
he said.

“Naturally, everyone has felt an element of anxiety – the main concern amongst staff is not even so much
contracting the virus themselves, but more so taking it home to their family.

“Everyone’s been very mindful of the impact this has had on each other, our colleagues and our families.

“What I’ve seen is the true resilience of the paramedic workforce and the good nature of our staff.”

Bourke paramedics Michael Poyser, Celine Haddad,Tristan Butt, Sally Bull and Ryan McLennan.
Inspector Adam Parker in Tottenham, pictured pre-COVID.

Inspector Parker said paramedics across western NSW have really stepped up to the plate to keep their
communities safe.

“They have embraced every element of safety – whether that’s maintaining PPE, getting vaccinated, or
simply leading by example and getting tested,” he said.

“Our workforce is amazing and they truly hold the safety and wellbeing of our community at the forefront of
their minds.”

While they knew regional NSW would be affected by the pandemic at some stage, Inspector Parker said the
impact has been bigger than they predicted.

“Last year when COVID first hit, we were lucky because it didn’t really have an impact on us,” he said.

“We were aware of what our metro colleagues were going through but I think we felt a little untouched.

“There’s no doubt that Dubbo has taken the biggest hit in relation to COVID presentations and transports
in western NSW, but having said that, the impact is enormous on some of our smaller ambulance stations
who look after large areas.”

One of those ambulance stations is in Bourke – a small team comprised of just five paramedics.

Local paramedic Celine Haddad, who moved to the historic outback town in March last year, said the past
few weeks have been challenging.

“We’re a small station but we service quite a large area, including towns up to 300kms away,” she said.

“Jobs can take hours and we’re on an on-call roster of eight days on, six days off, so the last few weeks
have been fatiguing.

Celine said that while the town has been hit “pretty hard” with COVID over the past few weeks, she’s also
seen community spirit at its best.

“We’ve had around 80 cases reported and for a population of 2500, that’s pretty significant,” she said.

“Even though it’s tough at the moment, we’re trying to keep positive and remember that we’ve got a really
good community out here.

“We’ve had volunteers pick up groceries for the elderly, the local supermarket has dropped around
care packages to all healthcare workers, and people have provided hampers of food and other supplies to
families who are isolating.

“Our community has really rallied together, it’s been great to see.”