Building is set to start on Cowras new ambulance stations, but local member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has acknowledged that it is part of a longer game to get hospital upgrades in Cowra.
Ive been fighting for a redeveloped hospital now for the past 14 months I will continue on that fight until we get it across the line, Ms Cooke said at last Fridays sod turn.
This [the Ambulance station] is an important marker along the way, its needed here in Cowra, and it will dovetail really, really nicely with the redeveloped hospital when we eventually get that across the line.
The new station is one of six that will be built in Ms Cookes Cootamundra electorate as part of the Rural Ambulance Infrastructure Reconfiguration (RAIR) program, a $122 million program that is dedicated to restoring and improving regional ambulance stations.
While the station doesnt have an individual budget because it is tied to a larger program, NSW Health Infrastructures Senior Project Director Anthony Dimech said the public can expect the building to be built by early next year.
Our time frame will be completion in early 2020, and then that will go through an operational commissioning phase and fit-out... then it will go live and then well start our transfer of services from the existing Cowra station into the new station, he said.
Cowra mayor Bill West was in attendance at the sod turn, and acknowledged new facilities were needed.
Were very much aware that the old ambulance station wasnt really fit for purpose, Cr West said.
We cant wait now to see construction commence and the ambulance station being occupied and the facilities being fully utilised not just to the benefit of the Cowra community, but the broader regional community as well.
The new facilities contain major improvements, including space for up to eight ambulance vehicles, an external wash bay, staff parking as well as relief accommodation and staff amenities.
Acting Superintendent and NSW Ambulances Central West Zone Manager, Ron Gavin, added that Cowras ambulance station plays a crucial role in meeting the needs of the broader area.
Cowra is one of our key locations to provide 24 hour emergency paramedic response to the public, Mr Gavin said.
Cowra [also] has the added responsibility as a primary rescue vehicle under the State Rescue Act and as such we respond to calls for rescue of people, in situations where obviously they are trapped.
The other stations across the Cootamundra electorate include Ardlethan, Coolamon, Cootamundra, Grenfell and Harden.