AN upcoming strike by helicopter paramedics could mean longer response times for patients with police officers and firefighters agreeing with their action.
The planned strike action by special casualty access team (SCAT) paramedics would include a refusal to use the helicopter’s winch to conduct rescues in difficult terrain.
While the Orange ambulance helicopter does not have a winch, the strike could affect people across Orange and the central west according to intensive care paramedic and Health Services Union (HSU) representative Mark Ellis.
“A delayed response could see a one hour job turn into a four or five hour job,” he said.
Mr Ellis said helicopters with a winch can be sent to Orange if required for a rescue however during the strike paramedics would trek to the rescue area rather than winch a patient out for a quicker retrieval.
The strike action comes following the death of SCAT paramedic Michael Wilson who was killed when performing a rescue at Carrington Falls in the southern highlands last Christmas Eve.
While the family of a paramedic, police officer or firefighter does receive a lump sum payout under the government’s death and disability scheme, it is often not enough for them to survive on according to Mr Ellis.
If 40-year-old a paramedic was to be killed on the job their family would receive a payment of just $400,000.
Emergency service personnel often find it difficult or impossible to acquire private life insurance and hope this strike will lead to more generous pay-outs similar to that in the private sector.
Direct Life Suncorp spokesperson Jane Power said having adequate insurance cover suited to your level of risk in your chosen occupation and lifestyle will ensure that you and your family are financially protected.
Mr Ellis said the NSW Ambulance Service paramedics have confirmed details of the strike but are yet to announce its start date.