Widow fights to protect paramedic families

wilson family Wilson family

The wife of a paramedic who died rescuing an injured canyoner on Christmas Eve in 2011 is campaigning to make it easier for people in her husband’s job to get income protection and life insurance.

Michael Wilson, a special rescue paramedic, was 42 when he died after slamming into a cliff wall at Carrington Falls near Wollongong while suspended from a helicopter. He left a wife and three children behind. A safety investigation into the accident is due to report its findings on Thursday. The death is also the subject of a coronial inquiry.

His wife, Kellie Wilson, and the NSW Health Services Union are separately lobbying the NSW government to ensure that other families are not left in a financially difficult position after a similar death. The union says that while life insurance and income protection is readily available to paramedics, it is either not offered by some insurance companies or prohibitively expensive for special rescue paramedics such as Mr Wilson, whose work involved being suspended from a helicopter.

”We are launching a campaign in the industrial courts in the hope of achieving for our members parity with other workers on a helicopter in having income protection and life insurance as part of their working conditions,” said Gerard Hayes, NSW secretary of the Health Services Union.

In a statement, Mrs Wilson said she and her three children, Eliza, 16, Grace, 13, and Hugo, 7, miss their father every day.

”Michael’s commitment to his role together with his skills and expertise led to countless rescues,” Mrs Wilson said.

”Thanks to the expertise of our State’s SCAT [Special Casualty Access Team] paramedics and their ability to undertake rescues in such variable conditions, countless lives have and continue to be saved. My priority remains on caring for my family and ensuring that every effort is made to ensure an accident like Michael’s never happens again.”

A spokeswoman for Finance and Services Minister Greg Pearce said he met Mrs Wilson. ”The minister told Mrs Wilson he would look into the issue of income protection and insurance for paramedics to see if changes were needed,” she said. A spokesman for the NSW Ambulance Service said paramedics had access to a death and disability scheme similar to schemes for police and fire officers.

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