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.