QUEENSLAND BUSHFIRES

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: Having served as a CFS volunteer at both the 1980 and 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, I well remember the importance of having appropriate levels of health professionals and ambulance personnel to assist firefighters and local residents. Will the minister advise the council of any assistance being provided to Queensland in relation to the bushfires being experienced in that state?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing): I thank the honourable member for his question. As the honourable member quite rightly highlights, South Australia has been the beneficiary of generous support from emergency services from around Australia in years past in our times of need. South Australians have been active in reciprocating when other Australians are in need. South Australians have been and will continue to support Queensland, through the deployment of SA Health paramedics to assist firefighting efforts.

These paramedics provide valuable capability in remote areas and increase the operational capacity of the fire strike teams. The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services sought assistance from the South Australian Country Fire Service for the provision of services to support firefighting efforts on 12 September 2019. The South Australian Ambulance Service deployed six specialist paramedics from the special operations unit and SAAS remote units, who were attached to fire strike teams for the purposes of treating injury and illness.

The efforts of these individuals had an immediate impact at the operational level, as they increased the capability of the strike teams, who would often be limited in their operations due to the remote nature of the work. Additionally, their ability to provide high-level remote clinical monitoring and care was invaluable. I am advised that strike teams for these efforts were located in Canungra, Warwick and Caloundra. An additional 42 staff from SA Health have assisted in volunteer roles in supporting the recent Queensland firefighting efforts. The efforts are coordinated under what is called the Arrangement for Interstate Assistance.

I also want to pay tribute to members of the South Australian emergency services family beyond my portfolio and acknowledge their contribution recently. For example, only yesterday, following a request from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, a third contingent of South Australian emergency services personnel left for New South Wales to help with firefighting efforts in the north of that state. I am told that the contingent will include 16 Country Fire Service volunteer firefighters and a South Australian Ambulance Service paramedic. On behalf of all South Australians, I thank the people involved in supporting other Australians in need.