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‘First responder’ not the answer

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis (far right), with John and Ann McLean are flanked by NSW Ambulance representatives. A yet-to-be-announced public meeting will soon be held to discuss a proposal to establish a ‘Community First Responder’ service in Iluka. Image: Contributed.
  Geoff Helisma A proposal to establish a ‘Community First Responder’ service in Iluka will not stop Ann and John McLean’s campaign to establish an ambulance station in the area. Just before Christmas last year, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and NSW Ambulance officials met with the McLeans. “The … service proposed by the government falls short of the ambulance station the community wanted, but it is a start,” Mr Gulaptis said in a media release. “John and Ann … did a wonderful job in obtaining community support for an ambulance station, with 11,500 [petition] signatures, triggering a debate in the NSW Legislative Assembly on the issue. “Despite bipartisan support in that debate, Heath Minister Brad Hazzard has declared Iluka does not currently meet the criteria, owing to its relative proximity to ambulance stations in Yamba and Maclean. “In better news, he did identify Iluka as ‘highly suitable for the establishment of a Community First Responder service’.” First responders are accredited volunteers who operate under NSW Ambulance governance and training. Mr Gulaptis said the next step in the process is to find local people interested in becoming community first responders. “The ambulance service provides them with full training and of course they would need to undergo criminal/working with children checks,” Mr Gulaptis said. “These might be members of sporting groups, such as the local rowing club, retired nurses, emergency service volunteers already in the community or anybody else who would like to be trained and have such valuable lifesaving skills.” Mr Gulaptis said a community meeting will be held, most likely after the holiday period, to gauge the level of support from the local community. Ms Mclean said she welcomed the opportunity to have a community meeting to discuss the issue, however, she said she and her husband were disappointed with the first responder proposal. “We’ll keep fighting and pushing to establish an ambulance station in the Woombah/Iluka area,” she said.