Smoke plays havoc for asthmatics in North West

Inspector Ray Tait

Inspector Ray Tait

SENIOR paramedics have warned asthmatics to stay indoors, as smoke from fierce fires across the state moves through parts of the North West.

With fire crews still working in overdrive to contain fires running rampant across the state on Monday, paramedics have renewed their warnings for asthmatics to avoid heading outside, when they know smoke is present.

On Sunday evening, southerly winds pushed smoke into the region, believed to be from a fire in the area and another which had burnt out thousands of hectares of land at Cassilis in the state’s central west, prompting fears for asthmatics across the region.

Surprisingly, New England ambulance inspector Ray Tait said, paramedics were called to little to no asthmatic related concerns over the weekend, but scorching temperatures of above 44 degrees kept the region’s ambulance crews busy, with calls for assistance for heat related illnesses.

“It surprised me,” Inspector Tait said of the lack of asthma calls.

“Tamworth is a big enough area to get a good gauge of what’s going on around the region – and I think people who have suffered with asthma are intelligent enough to know to get themselves out of the smoke and seal themselves inside,” he said.

“Hopefully the smoke will clear over the next day or so and we won’t have too many issues.

“With an environment like this, asthmatics are always at risk – it is a fluid situation we are dealing with at the moment.

“But they are well aware of that and to maintain their medication and make sure they’re all up to date.” 

Inspector Tait urged residents not to hesitate to dial-000 if they were experiencing breathing difficulties due to an increase in air pollution.

With a cool change sweeping across the region on Sunday night, Inspector Tait said there was a reprieve for crews who were busy in scorching temperatures over the weekend.

He said paramedics were now throwing their support behind NSW firefighters.

“We’re supporting our colleagues in the Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW at the moment, because they’ve got an extremely difficult job to do at the moment,” he said.

“We’ll support them in whatever way we can.

“While the heat didn’t push us to the limit, it certainly kept us busy on the weekend and some people had a bit of a torrid time.

“Luckily, the weather forecast says it’s backing off and we’re hopeful that because of this, the workload will also drop.” 

After a total fire ban in the North West over the weekend, the region is readying itself for some cooler weather this week.

However, a very high fire danger is expected to be in place for much of the area on Tuesday as dry grass and foliage pose an increased fire risk.