ON Friday night the Orange-based Ambulance NSW rescue helicopter was ready to take-off on its first night rescue, heralding a victory for the people of the central west.
The start of the 24-hour on-call service is the culmination of many years of lobbying by communities, councils, organisations and politicians to convince the NSW government the people of the central west deserved the same level of health service as their city counterparts.
Orange mayor John Davis and member for Orange Andrew Gee met up with paramedics, pilots and doctors at the base yesterday afternoon to launch the 24-hour service.
After three reviews over several years the state government finally acknowledged there was a case for a night flying service 12 months ago.
Cr Davis said the hard-fought battle was testament to the tenacity of the people in this region.
“It was councillor Glenn Taylor who first brought this to council, saying how important it was we got this service and we threw all out weight behind it,” he said.
“But we would like to thank the Central Western Daily and the other media who kept this issue in the public eye for so long,” he said.
Mr Gee, who made yesterday’s announcement, lobbied the state government by providing examples of cases where a 24-hour service would have affected the patient’s outcome.
“Our case was absolutely irrefutable,” he said.
“The campaign to achieve a 24-hour service was about equity.
“People in the country are entitled to the same access to medical services as people in the city and it just show what a region can achieve when we all work together.
“I would like to thank everyone including former member for Orange Russell Turner and Dr John Lambert from Orange Health Service who also made a huge contribution to the campaign.”
Under the new arrangements, staff will remain on-base until 8.30pm and will then be available on call from nearby.
Orange City Council has recently approved the development application for the new base at Orange Airport, with sleeping facilities incorporated into the new building.
When it is complete, staff will be on-base 24-hours a day.