“We’ll now be able to provide a better service for the community” is how proud station officer Ashley Cutten described the impact of the new Birmingham Gardens ambulance precinct on the region.
Paramedics in the Hunter are more appropriately equipped to respond to emergency situations following the official opening of the Birmingham Gardens and Rutherford stations on Tuesday 2 March.
Parliamentary Secretary for Health Natasha Maclaren-Jones, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin and Wallsend state MP Sonia Hornery joined NSW Ambulance Assistant Commissioner Clare Lorenzen for a tour of the latest facilities, delivered as part of the NSW Government’s $132 million Rural Ambulance Infrastructure Reconfiguration (RAIR) Stage 1 program.
“It’s been about two years from the time we first heard the news,” Mr Cutten said.
“But, we’re thrilled with how it’s come together.
“We moved from our Wilkinson Avenue premises, where we’d been since 1964, and started operations at Nash Street in May 2020.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 slowed everything down; that’s why the official opening is taking place today.
“However, for the 24 permanent staff members [here], it will be so much better – and practical.
“In fact, it’s five times the size of our old building.
“So, it’s certainly made for the future.”
The new purpose-built stations feature:
- Internal parking for up to seven emergency ambulance vehicles;
- Administration and office areas;
- Staff amenities;
- Multi-purpose meeting and training room;
- Logistics and storage areas;
- Wash bays; and
- Staff parking
In addition, the station at Rutherford consists of an education facility and zone management office area.
Mrs Maclaren-Jones admitted it was important to keep the staff, and communities, as safe as possible.
“This is a fine example of how the NSW Government is continuing its promise to deliver the most up-to-date equipment and facilities,” she said.
“I’m delighted to see the finished development [today].”
Mr Martin, who was recently appointed to his current portfolio, said local paramedics were involved in designing the stations.
“The community can be assured NSW Ambulance is committed to providing the best out-of-hospital clinical care to all patients across the region and throughout the state, even at times of high demand,” he added.
Assistant Commissioner Clare Lorenzen said the facilities were crucial services for thousands of residents.
“This project is an important step in the delivery of high-quality mobile emergency care to the people of Birmingham Gardens, Rutherford and surrounding areas,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.
The RAIR program is the single largest regional infrastructure investment in NSW Ambulance’s 125-year history, with 24 locations across the state benefiting from an upgraded, rebuilt or entirely new ambulance station as part of Stage 1.
The 2020-21 NSW State Budget announced $100 million towards RAIR Stage 2.
In 2020-21, the NSW Government is investing a total of more than $1 billion in services and capital works for NSW Ambulance.
This includes $27 million funding for 180 new staff across the state, the third tranche of the June 2018 commitment to recruit 750 additional paramedic and control centre staff over four years.