NSW Greens Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith MP is throwing her support behind concerned local pilots and paramedics who say the site deemed for the new Northern NSW Rescue chopper base is unsuitable and could put lives at risk.
While the NSW Health Ministry has given the tick to the Lismore airport pad, frontline crew members say that it is a highly unsuitable position which could see the service out of action for over a third of the year.
“It is of concern to me that those operating the frontline of our rescue chopper service were left out of the consultation period, and despite being vocal about having the pad location reconsidered for safety and take off factors it appears they’ve been ignored,” Ms Smith said.
“I’ve been informed the Lismore site poses a number of issues that produce less than optimal conditions for take-off- and frighteningly 35 percent of the year, take off isn’t possible at all!”
“Fog presence, fruit bats, heat, flooding and distance from the coast are the indicators that make the Lismore site unsuitable which begs the question, why weren’t other locations considered that do not have these risk factors,” Ms Smith said.
In addition to this concerned frontline workers have informed Ms Smith there has been no risk assessment done on the Lismore Airport location and a flood plan is yet to be completed.
“The people of Northern NSW need to be assured that this critical emergency service operation has the capacity to function at its peak,” she said.
“With pilots and paramedics raising concerns and calling for alternative pad sites to be considered, it makes no sense to proceed with construction in February at Lismore in the face of such uncertainty.”
The Member for Ballina has written to Health Minister Jillian Skinner calling for an urgent review on the pad location, an explanation as to why no flood management plan or risk assessment on the site has been done, and is urging her to consider the voices of those personnel at the heart of our rescue service.