Coraki residents want firefighters to become first responders at emergencies.
Coraki residents want firefighters to become first responders at emergencies. Trevor Veale

No ambos, no hospital: One town's desperate plea for help

LIVING without an ambulance station or a hospital, one Northern Rivers town has called for intervention by the State Government.

About a third of Coraki's population signed a petition calling for its Fire & Rescue NSW station be trained to become Community First Responders (CFR). The petition attracted 400 signatures when it was circulated in recent months rallying support for the town's 11 retained fireys to attend and treat in emergencies.

With the Coraki's Campbell Health-One centre operating with out a doctor, residents feel they could be left in the lurch during an emergency as the nearest ambulance station is 25 minutes away at Evans Head.

At the moment, firefighters can be called by NSW Ambulance to assist at an incident and administer basic first aid before paramedics arrive.

If the firefighters were trained Community First Responders, Coraki's firefighters would be dispatched at the same time as an ambulance to attend life-threatening incidents such as crashes and heart attacks.

The fireys would also be provided with life-saving equipment to use automated external defibrillators and give oxygen therapy.

Fire & Rescue NSW Coraki captain, Graeme Guest, said many fire brigades across the state have participated in the CFR program.

Capt Guest said his crews would be ready to undertake the program when approved by NSW Ambulance and the local emergency management committee.

In an effort to expedite the training, health worker Linda Barney told of the town's plight and handed the petition to Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones last week's Annual General Meeting.

Prior to 2010, volunteers at the State Emergency Service's Coraki unit had first responder status, but the unit has since lost those specialised volunteers and now has no one with the training.

SES Coraki unit controller, George Smart said the SES backed the push for the fireys to be trained as first responders.



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