Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (12:50): I rise to support a very good amended motion by the member for Schubert—because on this side we are not about spin. We are about acknowledging the great work that our paramedics do, our frontline workers, our frontline paramedics who come in all shapes and sizes; whether it be an ambulance officer, whether it be a medical facility staff member or whether it be a volunteer it is a critically important space in any community. Whether in a metropolitan community or a regional community, I have witnessed over many years the valuable contribution that all paramedics make.
International Paramedics Day should be celebrated. I feel that every member of this chamber should have made a contribution because of the importance of the highly skilled men and women who grace our communities day in, day out, interacting with people and the forces of nature in extreme circumstances.
What we have seen, living on a federal highway, particularly in a regional setting like mine in Chaffey, is that sadly regional road accident incidents are growing. That shows me that those paramedics, those first responders, are doing an outstanding job rising above the adversity of the natural role they play. They have to deal with not only their professional attitude, and the way in which they attend any incident, but living in a community as well. There is a balancing act that paramedics perform looking after our people, keeping us safe and attending and addressing emergency situations. It really is an outstanding frontline service, and I call them frontline heroes because that is exactly what they are, and they are regularly forced to face challenging and traumatic situations.
It has already been highlighted that during the recent COVID pandemic it became apparent just how these amazing workers worked and how they protected us. They went above and beyond because we know that some of those first responders were putting their safety in second spot over looking after those people they attended. Over 2,700 career and volunteer staff provide aeromedical, rescue and retrieval services across the entire state, and I say thank you to every single one of them—every one of them. Whether you are paid or you are a volunteer, you are an outstanding contributor to South Australia.
In Chaffey, we have a number of ambulance stations in our larger town settings, most notably Renmark, Berri, Barmera, Loxton, Waikerie, Morgan, Swan Reach and Karoonda. In my previous life as an avid motorsport enthusiast, I was occasionally cared for by paramedics. Whether it was me being attended to on the side of a racetrack or in the river, there were a number of times when paramedics were the comforting factor in the circumstance I found myself in. I know that my son and I almost shared a hospital bed for a little while because of the nature of our pastime and sport. The paramedics played a big part in that, not only attending trackside or riverside but also getting us to a place of care.
In Chaffey, we have some notable paramedics: Mr Jason Hughes and Andrew Edwards are Loxton-based paramedics and together they run AJ First Aid, education and supply, and it is a great initiative that they have. Russell McQuade is a paramedic in Waikerie. He is also the Ambulance Employees Association state councillor for the Riverland and he does a great job. Mr David Lodge is a Morgan-based Ambulance Service volunteer and also a team leader. He was awarded the Premier's Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Volunteer Service back in 2019. Again, I say thank you. In the most recent floods, we saw the Renmark hospital residents relocation team receive a CEO commendation at the 2023 SA Ambulance Service Excellence Awards, which is another outstanding achievement.
There are a small number of paramedics in our region doing an outstanding job, covering a large area, some 25,000 square kilometres. The majority of those paramedics based in those ambulance stations have that outreach program and that will to help their communities. Again this year, like every year, I want to thank those paramedics, those first responders, the volunteers and all the other associated paramedics who come to the benefit of those in need. Whether it is a medical condition, whether it is a medical episode, whether it is an injury or whether it is, sadly, a road trauma, it really is a great comfort to see an ambulance coming up the road to help and play their role in making sure that people are kept safe.
I also want to give a big shout-out to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. They, too, have a paramedic service. They are obviously a flying institution—aeromedical they might call it—and they do a very good job. I want to say thank you to Peter de Cure, the Chair; Tony Vaughan, the CEO; and all the staff and volunteers. I know that they are professional and that their volunteers are passionate.
In Renmark, we are now seeing at Renmark Airport the construction of the new transfer facility, which is a small piece of infrastructure that has been long needed. We have waited very patiently for that transfer facility because we know the adversity of weather when transferring patients who need medical attention from the land-based situation into an aircraft so that they can be taken to a greater medical service provider, usually in Adelaide. It is a great institution.
I also pay tribute to that service, the Angel Flight service. A couple of my children have been on that Angel Flight, and there is nothing more comforting than seeing the great care, the compassion and the service the Angel Flight has given not only to my children but also to me as a parent knowing that they are in good hands. It is a great opportunity to thank paramedics on International Paramedics Day. Again, I say thank you. Thank you for your service, thank you for your dedication and for going above and beyond.