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Byron Shire
June 7, 2023

New helibase a sea of mud: paramedics

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The new Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Base at Lismore Airport is currently inaccessible due to flood. Photo contributed

Both the current and future Lismore paramedic helibases are inaccessible due to flood, an utterly avoidable problem paramedics have been warning of for years, according to the Health Services Union (HSU).

The current base is completely flooded, the HSU says, while the future base which is under construction is ‘essentially an island with no power.’

HSU paramedics have repeatedly warned that both sites are completely inappropriate due to flood, fogs and flying bats, but have been consistently ignored.

‘The site of the new helibase is a sea of mud while the current helibase is under water. Both sites are essentially unusable. Sadly, this problem was entirely predictable,’ said HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes.

‘Our members are fed up. It’s unsafe for them to land in mud, the supply of power is intermittent and the conditions make it impossible to clean the chopper and the equipment,’ he added

‘The experience of the last few days has been dangerous and dispiriting. Paramedics have nonetheless done their best to cope in extremely trying circumstances.

‘However, this won’t improve at the new site, which was chosen through a flawed process. All along, paramedics have warned that it would slow response times due to flood, fog and bats.

‘If authorities listened to the experts on the ground, we could avoid all of this by locating the helibase in a more appropriate location such as Ballina or Goonellabah.

‘The northern rivers community deserves a rescue helicopter that can safely take off and land. Equally, paramedics deserve to have their safety protected. Daily, they risk their lives to protect the health of the community.

‘The state government needs to take this bull by the horns, admit it made a mistake and relocate the helibase to an appropriate site,’ Mr Hayes said.


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  1. who’s brilliant idea was it not to have a helipad at the new Byron hospital? A big accident on the new highway or like now, closed roads during a natural disaster the possibility of transporting patients to bigger hospitals would be imperative and could save lifes

  2. Locals knew this would eventuate with the Heli base. Crazy to put EXPENSIVE emergency services equipment in Mud. Get it together people’s we deserve so much better.
    Our helicopter crew and support personnel don’t need this sort of CRAP when their trying to save lives and serve their community.

  3. This is what happens when bureaucrats, hand-picked by politicians, are given authority to make decisions without forced accountability and transparency to explain why they know better than experts, staff and community. Yes it’s construction created jobs & a new rescue helibase can be announced and opened by the local Member, but big deal! It is nonsensical that it can’t be used during floods or fog, and hundreds of homes in central Lismore are now complaining about the flying foxes displaced from Curry Park….. all of which were known and predicted when this decision was made. It happens in every government department. Why is there such an absence of common sense?


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