Tag Archives: New South Wales

New South Wales | Health alert issued with start of bat breeding season

NSW Health has urged people not to approach injured bats and flying foxes following three confirmed cases of the potentially fatal lyssavirus in NSW bats this year.

Over the past month, 32 people required rabies post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) following high-risk exposures to potentially infected animals. Five of the people had reported local bat exposures while the remaining 27 people had animal bites or scratches while travelling overseas.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director of Communicable Diseases Branch, said NSW Health is concerned that as we come into the bat birthing season (October and November), young and miscarried pups may be on the ground, prompting people to pick them up or attempt to rescue them.

“So far this year we have had three people who were bitten or scratched by bats that were later confirmed to have had the potentially deadly lyssavirus,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“This highlights the importance of avoiding bat bites and scratches. Lyssavirus infection can result in a rabies-like illness which is very serious and, if not prevented, is fatal.

“There have been three human cases of lyssavirus in Australia (all were in Queensland) and all three people died.”

Dr Sheppeard said the best protection against being exposed to deadly lyssaviruses is to avoid handling any bat in Australia, and any wild or domestic mammal in a rabies-endemic country. This includes bats and wild or domestic dogs, cats, and monkeys.

“People should avoid all contact with bats as there is always the possibility of being scratched or bitten and it leading to infection. You should always assume that all bats and flying foxes are infectious, regardless of whether the animal looks sick or not,” she said.

“Only people who have been fully vaccinated against rabies, use protective equipment and have been trained in bat handling should touch bats.

“When a bat is injured or in distress, do not attempt to rescue it. Contact the experts at WIRES on 1300 094 737.

“If someone is bitten or scratched by any type of bat they should thoroughly clean the wound for at least five minutes with soap and water as soon as possible, apply an antiseptic such as Betadine and seek urgent medical advice.

“They may require a series of injections to protect against lyssavirus infection and the first two need to be given as soon as possible. It is important you seek advice from your GP or local public health unit regarding treatment.”

For more information, visit: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/Rabies-Australian-Bat-Lyssavirus-Infection.aspx

New South Wales | NSW SES winding down storm response after 2265 calls for assistance

Following the severe weather that affected the South Coast, Illawarra, Blue Mountains and Metropolitan area of Sydney on Tuesday, the NSW SES is expected to complete the remaining requests for assistance today. Most outstanding requests are in the southern suburbs of Sydney and the Illawarra.

A further 82 Requests for Assistance (RFAs) have been received since Wednesday afternoon, mainly across the Illawarra South Coast and Sydney Southern areas.

There have been a total of 2265 RFAs received for this event, with 90% of RFAs now complete. The remaining 10% will be attended to today by the NSW SES, with the expectation that these will be finalised today. Improved weather today will assist the clearing of these outstanding requests for assistance.

People who still require emergency assistance as a result of the storms should call the NSW SES on 132 500 or 000 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

Some of the damage that was experienced from the storms could have been prevented by simple home maintenance. The NSW SES requests households and businesses to use the improved weather conditions to:

  • Clean gutters and downpipes
  • Trim back overhanging trees and branches
  • Check your roof is in good repair
  • Secure or put away loose items from yards and balconies when windy weather is expected
  • Park cars under cover away from stormwater drains

The NSW SES is again disappointed in the large number (85) of rescues that had to be undertaken. Many of these were people who deliberately entered floodwater. Please do not drive, ride or walk through floodwater. The SES advise to stay out of floodwater so we don’t have to get you out.

The assistance of the Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW Police, as well as local government and other agencies in attending to the requests for assistance is gratefully acknowledged.

New South Wales | Sydney storms – One very busy night for fire & rescue crews

Last night’s unprecedented extreme weather across Sydney and the Illawarra has seen Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) experience one of its busiest nights in history.

Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said FRNSW had taken 1,105 Triple Zero (000) calls from 6pm yesterday to 8am today.

“Last night every fire truck in the Sydney and Illawarra area responded to numerous emergencies from flood rescues to house fires caused by lightning strikes,” Commissioner Mullins said.

“We initially responded six fire trucks and 24 firefighters from Sydney to help the 17 crews in the Illawarra, who were all out on the road dealing with the incidents caused by the extreme weather. As the storm front moved over Sydney, crews from the Illawarra and the Central Coast travelled to Sydney to help deal with the influx of calls.

“At the height of the storm more than 100 fire trucks and nearly 500 firefighters were deployed to emergencies across Sydney.

“Because of the extremely high number of calls we were receiving, off-duty firefighters were recalled at around 9:30pm to staff eight additional fire engines, which were deployed across Sydney.

“At the peak of the bad weather last night – 9:30pm – we had 230 active emergencies at once.

“This morning we are assisting the NSW State Emergency Service with four fire trucks and 16 firefighters deployed to southern Sydney. This is on top of the dozens of firefighters out securing trees and wires across the greater Sydney area.”

Between 6pm and 8am, FRNSW firefighters responded to 970 emergencies, including
• 95 fires (including at least two fires started by lightning strikes at Kellyville and Normanhurst)
• 384 storm-related emergencies, including wires down, trees down and flooding, including a call to flooding over three levels at Wollongong Hospital at 6:16pm
• 87 rescues such as rescuing people from cars and homes, including a man who was rescued by firefighters at Warrawong after he was trapped underneath a tree at around 7pm
• 15 HAZMATS such as overflowing pipes
• 27 medical assistance emergencies
• 12 bush and grass fires (most likely started by lightning)
• 350 other callouts such as automatic fire alarms being set off by winds, power outages and heavy rain.

Commissioner Mullins said FRNSW would continue to provide support to the NSW SES during the protracted clean up operations.

“I can only praise firefighters and our other emergency service colleagues for their mighty effort,” he said.

“We’re also appealing to the public to only call Triple Zero if it is a genuine emergency For flood and storm assistance, call the NSW SES on 132 500,” he said.

New South Wales | NSW Ambulance launches new fleet of multi-purpose vehicles

Last week, Health Minister Jillian Skinner launched seven new Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) general ambulances to support paramedics and patients with special needs across the state.

Mrs Skinner and Smithfield MP Andrew Rohan met with paramedics at Fairfield Ambulance Station to launch the new MPV general ambulances, inspect MPV specialist ambulances and learn more about the different capabilities of the two vehicle models.

“The new vehicles, which have a fit out value of $152,000 each, ensure paramedics have the right support in place to provide emergency care to patients. They are equipped with mechanical aids in the lifting and management of patients to reduce health and safety risks.

“An added bonus of the new MPV general ambulances is they can be used for non-bariatric transport too.

“These new vehicles complement the investment we have made in MPV specialist ambulances, which are capable of transporting patients with a weight up to 500kg.

“These vehicles are an important investment as they deliver benefits for both patients and paramedics.

“I have the utmost respect and admiration for the state’s paramedics and believe they should have the best resources available to carry out their life-saving work.”

Mrs Skinner said the allocation of these seven new MPV ambulances has enabled a five-fold increase in MPV coverage across regional NSW.

Mrs Skinner said in the past financial year 1,261 transports were undertaken by MPV specialist ambulances – an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year.

“Clearly there is demand for these services and this is about ensuring the right resources are available for patients with extra needs,” Mrs Skinner said.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Michael Homden, Executive Director of Operational Logistics at NSW Ambulance, welcomed the addition of new ambulances to the growing MPV fleet.

“The rollout of these specialist ambulances is an example of how NSW Ambulance is providing infrastructure to meet an extensive range of patient needs in the community,” Mr Homden said.

Mrs Skinner said paramedic training for the new vehicles commenced this week in Fairfield and will continue throughout the state.

Photo (L-R): NSW Police Force Commissioner Andrew Scipione, Josef and NSW Ambulance Commissioner Ray Creen

New South Wales | NSW Ambulance motorcycle paramedic Josef Pichler wins Heroism Medal

Photo (L-R): NSW Police Force Commissioner Andrew Scipione, Josef and NSW Ambulance Commissioner Ray Creen
Photo (L-R): NSW Police Force Commissioner Andrew Scipione, Josef and NSW Ambulance Commissioner Ray Creen

Last week, Paramedic Josef Pichler became the winner of the Pride of Australia 2014: Heroism Medal.

The Pride of Australia Medal is one of News Corp Australia’s important community endeavours – recognising and rewarding the community’s most outstanding members.

The Heroism Medal recognises a member or members of the emergency services who have gone beyond the call of duty to protect the community.

Josef, a motorcycle paramedic, was recognised for his role when attending the 30 January 2014 incident, where a female was hit by a bus while crossing Clarence Street in Sydney’s CBD.

First on the scene, Josef, aware that the patient was trapped underneath the bus, administered morphine to relieve her pain and stayed with her for over an hour while specialist services moved the bus.

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Josef on his achievement and to recognise the outstanding work done by all paramedics and our other emergency service colleagues during the incident.

New South Wales | NSW SES continues to respond to calls due to severe weather – 1230 requests and counting

The NSW SES continues to respond to requests for assistance from severe weather caused by storms, torrential rain and damaging winds.

As at 4am, the NSW SES had received just over 1230 requests for emergency help, with the majority of these coming from the Illawarra, South Coast and Sydney’s southern and south western suburbs.

During Tuesday evening winds gusted to 161km/hr at Wattamolla in the Royal National Park, 115km/hr at Kurnell and 106km/hr at Sydney Airport. Winds continue to gust close to 100km/hr along the coastal fringe of the Illawarra and Sydney early Wednesday.

The heaviest rainfall was on the South Coast with 170mm at Lake Conjola and 145mm at Ulladulla. There were several falls in excess of 100mm in Sydney with 136mm at Sans Souci, 118 at Marrickville, 114 at Peakhurst and 113 at Strathfield.

The rain caused flash flooding in a number of locations with at least 57 flood rescues undertaken, most for people trapped in cars after driving into floodwater. Several people have been rescued from their homes which were affected by flash flooding.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a Minor Flood Warning for the Cooks River in Marrickville. This peaked around 2am at 1.5 metres coinciding with high tide. Local flooding of low lying roads, bicycle and walking tracks is expected. Marrickville and Canterbury SES Units are monitoring the flooding situation along the Cooks River. A number of properties are currently experiencing flooding in their yard. A number of cars have also been inundated. A team of Community Liaison Officers supported the Canterbury Unit with informing residents affected by flooding along the Cooks River.

There were six people evacuated from a building at Allawah following a retaining wall collapse. The residents have been accommodated with the assistance of the Welfare Services Functional Area.

The rescue operation involving a train at North Bexley Train Station has now been completed with some 50 passengers successfully removed with SES assistance. The train was trapped by floodwaters.

In the Blue Mountains 10-15cm of snow was recorded around Lithgow, Bell and Oberon. Snow was also reported at Blackheath. The snow caused damaged to cars in Lithgow from branches brought down by the weight of snow. The Great Western Highway was closed. The SES assisted the NSW Police in reaching a family trapped in their car in the snow when a fallen tree blocked their route. Milder conditions and rain are now thawing the snow.

SES crews will be active attending to damage this morning. Hazardous conditions have slowed the SES response and crews will be making the most of expected improved weather conditions to clear outstanding requests for assistance this morning.

For emergency help call the SES on 132 500 or 000 if it is a life-threatening emergency. Please stay clear of damaged structures and fallen powerlines. Never enter floodwater.

For the latest road information, go to www.livetraffic.com or call 132 701. For the latest weather information visit the Bureau of Meteorology at www.bom.gov.au/nsw

The NSW SES acknowledges the support of the Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Police and Ambulance NSW in assisting the community.

New South Wales | Central Coast heart attack victims given better chance of survival by NSW Ambulance paramedics

Heart attack victims living on the NSW Central Coast will now have faster access to life saving cardiac therapy traditionally delivered in hospital.

Central Coast paramedics can now provide Pre Hospital Thrombolysis (PHT) to suitable heart attack patients who dial Triple Zero (000), which can preserve heart function, potentially saving their life.

NSW Ambulance Chief Superintendent, Tony Gately, Deputy Director Operations said the PHT program ensures that treatment for heart attack victims starts as soon as paramedics arrive.

“An immediate response is vital in ensuring a positive outcome for heart attack patients. Our Central Coast paramedics can now deliver potentially life-saving thrombolysis or clot busting medications to suitable patients before they are transported to hospital” Chief Superintendent Gately said.

“This means the treatment pathway for these patients is starting earlier than ever, giving them a better chance of survival and recovery.”

PHT is a key part of the state-wide Cardiac Reperfusion Strategy, a partnership between Central Coast Local Health District, the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation and NSW Ambulance.

Paramedics on the Central Coast are now also equipped to perform electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring.

All paramedics on the Central Coast are equipped to deliver this new innovative care approach to heart attack patients.

The commencement of this treatment option on the Central Coast and in other rural and regional areas across the state comes after a successful trial period in the Hunter region.

Since July 2008 to August 2014, NSW Ambulance paramedics thrombolyised more than 300 patients across NSW.

Further information on PHT and the Cardiac Reperfusion Strategy can be found at http://www.aci.health.nsw.gov.au/networks/cardiac/scrs

New South Wales | Public health warning about Hep E cases linked with pork liver

NSW Health is urging members of the public to thoroughly cook pork products, particularly pork livers, after three recent notifications of Hepatitis E in NSW in people who have not travelled outside Australia.

NSW Health – in collaboration with the NSW Food Authority and the Department of Primary Industries – is investigating the cases which were recorded over the past few days.
Dr Jeremy McAnulty, the Director of Health Protection with NSW Health, said three individuals have likely contracted the illness after consuming either pork liver or pork liver sausages that may not have been properly cooked at home.
“Hepatitis E virus has previously been identified in Australian pig herds but until recently there has been no evidence that humans have acquired the virus from pork products in Australia,” Dr McAnulty said.
“Hepatitis E is common in developing countries where there is poor sanitation and little access to clean drinking water. Although infections have been linked to the consumption of pork products in other developed countries, this has not been seen in Australia before.
“In 2010 there were 14 notifications of Hepatitis E in NSW, in 2011 there were 21 notifications and in 2012 there were 10 notifications – all of which were thought to have been acquired overseas.
“Last year there were 19 notifications of the virus across the State and for the first time included a small number which were acquired locally.
“So far this year there have been 27 notifications, many without a history of overseas travel but with a history of eating pork particularly pork liver during the time they were likely exposed to the virus.”
Dr Lisa Szabo, Chief Scientist NSW Food Authority, said any raw food product has an element of food safety risk unless it is correctly handled and prepared.
“Undercooking pork livers and poor handling of them can be dangerous,” Dr Szabo said.
“Cooking livers all the way through will reduce the risk of contracting Hepatitis E virus or other organisms.”
Potentially harmful viruses and bacteria that may be associated with pork livers are all destroyed by thorough cooking and proper handling.
Pork livers need to be cooked all the way through to kill any organisms that may be present – lightly searing the surface is not enough.
Cook to 75°C at the centre of the thickest part for at least two minutes as measured using a digital probe meat thermometer before removing meat from the heat source.
Allow livers to rest for at least three minutes before consuming.
It is also important to handle pork livers in a way to avoid cross-contamination.”
To avoid cross-contamination (where particles from raw food come into contact with ready-to-eat foods), it is very important to:
·         wash your hands in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly before preparing food and after touching raw meat;
·         make sure juices from raw meat do not come into contact with other foods
·         thoroughly clean all utensils, equipment and surfaces after preparing raw meat and before contact with other foods;
·         if possible use a separate cutting board and knife specifically for raw meat;
·         store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge so juices can’t drip onto other foods; and
·         keep uncooked raw meat away from other ready-to-eat foods that will not be cooked.
Dr Jeremy McAnulty said the symptoms of Hepatitis E vary dramatically.
“Someone infected with Hepatitis E can experience no symptoms, a mild illness lasting a couple of weeks or a severe disease which may be fatal,” he said.
“If symptoms occur, they can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, dark urine and yellowing of the skin and eyeballs (jaundice).
“Hepatitis E virus infection is most serious in pregnant women (especially during the third trimester of a pregnancy), and in people who have pre-existing chronic liver disease.
“Most people will clear the virus and recover completely.”
For further information, people are advised to contact their local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.

New South Wales | NSW RFS LODD – Deputy Captain Peter Witton of Kyogle HQ RFB

Tragic news for the NSW RFS family this afternoon following the passing of Deputy Captain Peter Witton of the Kyogle HQ RFB, who died whilst responding to assist neighbouring brigades with a house fire.

The attached email has been sent to members for information. Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with Peter’s family, friends and colleagues during this most difficult time.

Evening All

It is with great sadness that I confirm a long standing member of the NSW RFS, Deputy Captain, Rudolph Peter Witton, passed away this afternoon whilst he was responding to a house fire with his colleagues of the Kyogle HQ brigade.

Rudolph Peter Witton, known to all of us as Peter, had been a member of the NSW RFS for the last 36 years, starting out in the Baulkham Hills area, before settling in Kyogle and serving with the Kyogle HQ Brigade.

This afternoon, Peter joined three fellow crew members in a response to back up neighbouring brigades with a house fire at Loadstone. Reports indicate that Peter started (to) have seizures approximately 10 minutes out of town and the crew pulled over to administer first aid. Shortly after the arrival of Ambulance NSW he went into cardiac arrest. Peter was transported to Kyogle Hospital but was not able to be resuscitated.

I spoke with Superintendent Michael Brett this afternoon whilst he was with Peter’s wife Francine and son Christ at the family home. As would be expected this has devastated the Kyogle HQ Brigade and all those in our Northern Rivers Team. Francine has indicated to Michael that she has some comfort in knowing that he was with fellow members, some of whom are long standing and best mates, when he took ill.

After speaking with Peter’s son Chris tonight, the family are comfortable with Peter’s name being released and members being made aware of his passing. I will be heading to Kyogle to catch up with Peter’s family, our Kyogle Brigade and the Northern Rivers Team tomorrow.

I know you all join in extending thoughts, prayers and best wishes to Peter’s family, colleagues and friends during this most difficult time.


Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner NSW RFS


New South Wales | Three people killed, three injured after shop fire in Rozelle

Emergency services have located two more bodies at the scene of a building fire in Rozelle.

Fire & Rescue NSW personnel discovered one of the bodies, believed to belong to an adult, around 10.30am today (Friday 5 September 2014).

Another body, believed to belong to an infant child, was found shortly after 1pm.

Fire & Rescue NSW personnel have removed the bodies from the rubble.

The development follows the discovery of another body yesterday afternoon.

None of the bodies have been identified; post-mortem examinations will be conducted in the coming days.

Strike Force Baracchi, which will be led by the Property Crime Squad’s Arson Unit, has been formed to investigate the fire.

The Commander of the Property Crime Squad, Detective Superintendent Murray Chapman, said the case was absolutely tragic.

“Three people have lost their lives in this event, and our thoughts are with their families and friends who are grief-stricken,” Detective Superintendent Chapman said.

“Specialist detectives from the Property Crime Squad’s Arson Unit are leading this investigation, and are working closely with colleagues from Central Metropolitan Region, Leichhardt Local Area Command and other emergency services agencies to determine how and why this tragic event occurred.

“We are treating the fire as suspicious, however, given the investigation is still in its infancy, I cannot go into detail on our lines of inquiry.”

Detective Superintendent Chapman thanked local residents and business owners for their support.

“I would like to thank the local community here in Rozelle for their patience and understanding. We are working as fast as possible to reopen the closed section of Darling Street.

“However, please bear in mind, that this is still a dangerous site for all of the emergency workers at the scene, and we need to work carefully and methodically to ensure the safety of our people.”

He added that anyone with information that may assist detectives should contact Crime Stoppers.

“I encourage anyone with information that may assist us, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, to contact Crime Stoppers,” Detective Superintendent Chapman said.

“Information can be provided anonymously and will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

For up to date information on road closures visit www.livetraffic.com.