Union officials say mechanical failures in bi-folding doors at ambulance superstations are putting paramedics at risk, with fraying and snapping cables causing counterweights to drop suddenly to the floor.
The issue is not new, after counterweights in a door snapped at Port Macquarie about five years ago, completely writing off a motorbike underneath.
Paramedics are furious over the failing door at Penrith superstation, as the issue of these doors was already known to NSW Ambulance when they were installed ahead of the station’s opening last year.
“The doors may be the right type of doors but they go up and down too many times for the maintenance schedule, so the cables get worn out quicker than they expect,” Health Services Union Divisional Manager for Ambulance, Stuart Hatter said.
“At that point [after Port Macquarie] NSW Ambulance was aware that it’s probably the wrong type of door to buy, fast forward to now and they are still using them.
“That hasn’t stopped them buying these doors and then not maintaining them properly.”
Two weeks ago a work health and safety check was completed, declaring the Penrith door as safe, but just two days later it came crashing down again.
“That’s what worries people, we know accidents happen but here’s a case where they were very certain they’d gotten it right and two days later it snapped again,” Mr Hatter said.
Mr Hatter said their concern is not only for the safety of paramedics but getting ambulances in and out quickly.
According to the Ambulance Division Health Services Union, NSW Ambulance instructed for doors to be left open with a security guard out front, insisting no one stand underneath them until they could find a solution.
A Health Infrastructure spokesperson said they are working with suppliers to rectify the issue.
“Health Infrastructure is undertaking an intensive maintenance program on superstation doors to make sure all moving parts are working to capacity,” the spokesperson said.
“Follow-up maintenance was undertaken at Penrith, which has now been completed. The safety of paramedics and staff remains our key priority. There has been no disruption to ambulance services as a result of this work.”
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.