BID TO SAVE LOGGING LIVES
By Alex Easton
A HELIPAD should be built at Lismore Base Hospital and a 24-hour paramedic crew be appointed to Westpac Rescue Helicopter, a senior NSW Coroner has recommended.
The recommendations are among a raft of suggestions from Senior Deputy State Coroner Jacqueline Milledge in her findings on the deaths of seven men including two from the Northern Rivers in forestry and tree-felling accidents between 2000 and 2002.
Among the seven men were Terry John Walsh, of Woodenbong, who died when a dead tree fell on him while he was working as a tree feller at Tabbimoble State Forest on June 30, 2000, and Graham Edward 'Pluto' Newton, of Goolmangar, who died on November 14, 2001, after a tree he was cutting down on a private property at Woodburn fell on him.
Ms Milledge noted complaints about the NSW Ambulance Service, made by ambulance officers who attended some of the accidents, about delays in reaching critically injured men.
In the case of Mr Newton, ambulance officers said they were delayed because Evans Head did not have a 4WD ambulance, forcing officers to 'hitch' with police. Their call for the helicopter to be sent before they arrived was rejected by a dispatcher.
Ms Milledge recommended the Ambulance Service give Evans Head a 4WD ambulance and give more weight to the assessments of experienced local officers.
The service is preparing a response to the recommendations. Evans Head now has a 4WD ambulance.
Ms Milledge also made safety recommendations to WorkCover, Forests NSW, police, and the forestry industry.
A spokesman for the North Coast Area Health Service said a helipad was expected to be built as part of stage three of the Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment.