The Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) have received reports from Paramedics that their requests for emergency services leave to fight fires have been refused.
Correspondence from NSW Ambulance senior managers reveals that paramedics requests to assist with their local RFS Brigades have been declined, not because their shifts couldn’t be covered, but because granting the leave would lead to additional overtime costs.
“It is hard to believe that NSW Ambulance is putting saving a few dollars in overtime costs ahead of overstretched RFS Brigades and the wellbeing of communities across Australia who are already experiencing the devastating effects of this fire season.” said APA (NSW) Secretary and Paramedic Gary Wilson.
“Paramedics work tirelessly to help their communities. We have Paramedics across NSW, who in their downtime choose to volunteer with the Rural Fire Service.”
“These Paramedics are asking NSW Ambulance to allow them to take leave, like other employees do, so they can help their local RFS Brigades and this is being declined to save a few dollars in overtime costs.”
In a message to all NSW Health staff sent on 6 January the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard wrote: “You have my strong support to continue doing whatever is necessary to ensure our patients and communities receive the care and support they require.”
“The NSW Health Minister’s message of support obviously means little to NSW Ambulance in practice. NSW Ambulance should be doing all it can to support the fire-fighting efforts, not just things that won’t come out of their budget.” said Mr Wilson.