Widower pleads for firies to treat patients

A Shellharbour man has thrown his support behind plans to involve firefighters in medical emergencies after a harrowing night which robbed him of the love of his life.

Darren, who wants his identity protected, said he waited 25 minutes for paramedics to arrive when his fiancee collapsed at an Illawarra venue.

A defibrillator was placed by her side, but there was no-one working at the establishment that night trained to use it.

‘‘She was singing, laughing, having a good night, then the next thing she passed out, fell to the floor and then she was dead,’’ Darren said yesterday.

‘‘The ambulance was stuck on another job.

‘‘This is not about giving paramedics a hard time. But I would have been relieved to see a firie trying valiantly to save my fiancee. Somebody working on her doing something, anything is better than nothing,’’ he said.

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The man shared details of the worst night of his life – March 24 last year – because he feels strongly about the proposal to allow Fire and Rescue NSW officers to treat patients when paramedics are unavailable.

Under the plan being considered by the state government, Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service volunteers could also be tasked to patients in the Illawarra.

‘‘It’s not about replacing them [paramedics]. The problem is we need more of them, more doctors, more nurses, more police. But the fact is, there are always problems getting ambulances.

‘‘They are so busy and get stuck on jobs, they’re understaffed, so why shouldn’t we have another option?

‘‘That night was the absolute worst night of my life. I don’t want anyone to have to sit there waiting and watching someone they love die without being able to do a thing.

‘‘Here was a defibrillator sitting right there, but there was no-one trained to use it.

‘‘Sadly my partner of 10 years, my best friend, passed away.’’

Darren said firefighters were already trained to use defibrillators so the plan made sense.

‘‘They have fairly advanced emergency kits with oxygen in their trucks and they have essential first aid training,’’ he said.

‘‘If the ambos get there, good, if the firies get there before them, let them get to work.’’

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