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NSW paramedics union at breaking point

Paramedics union in NSW at breaking point
Photo: NSW paramedics at breaking point
The paramedics' union is demanding better PPE, greater hospital capacity and rapid antigen testing for its workers on the frontline of the pandemic.

Greater Sydney's seven-week COVID-19 outbreak has left paramedics at breaking point and living in fear of contracting the virus and spreading it to their families, the union says.

The Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) is demanding better PPE and safety practices, greater hospital capacity and rapid antigen testing.

APA Assistant Secretary Alan O'Riordan says paramedics are contracting the highly-contagious Delta strain of the virus after being forced to wait inside ambulances for up to two-to-three hours with COVID-19 positive patients, before being able to off-load them to hospitals.
"This system is not under pressure, it's broken," he said on Tuesday.

"The public would be horrified if they could see what our day-to-day work was like in the middle of the outbreak.

"Every paramedic I know is at breaking point. We are scared for our safety, our families' safety, and the safety of the community."

The union says the NSW government had failed to implement key safety measures to ensure paramedics had appropriate PPE and minimal workplace exposures.

It says steps need to be taken to avoid staff working between Sydney and regional NSW.

The union has written to Health Minister Brad Hazzard demanding that specialist cleaning teams clean and restock ambulances at all major hospitals.

It also wants a fit test for every on-road paramedic to ensure masks create a proper facial seal.

It's also asking for rapid antigen testing for all paramedics.

"NSW Health's inaction on key safety issues is a disaster already happening," he said.

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