IN a medical emergency the difference between life and death can be a matter of minutes.
Today, thanks to the commencement of a 24-hour medical helicopter service, emergency patients in Orange and the central west may have the same chance at life as patients in metropolitan areas.
It has been a long time coming, perhaps too long for some critically injured patients, but now Orange’s round-the-clock retrieval service means those in need of transport into Orange hospital or an emergency transfer to Sydney, are not at the mercy of a restricted flight schedule.
The service comes at an additional cost to state coffers but to ignore the need any longer would have been to tell residents west of the Great Divide giving them the chance of better medical outcomes did not justify the dollars.
Successive state governments and the medical profession have known for some time that the number of emergency medical retrievals coming out of the central west and the slower response times without a helicopter on call were not acceptable.
It was certainly not acceptable to those in the medical profession who continued to push for the service in the face of delays pending the expiry of existing helicopter contracts, yet another interminable review of medical retrieval services or some other excuse.
Credit should go to many people for their tenacious fight over several years including councillors and politicians on both sides of politics.
They have won an argument which was essentially about equity of access to emergency care for country people.
It is an argument which could have so easily died quietly away if they had been prepared to take no for an answer.