The difference between life and death "is only minutes," Australian Paramedics Association president Chris Kastelan said, calling for additional resources for the state's ambulance service.
His plea came after a Bellbird family took to social media to share the terrifying moment they decided they would have to drive their teenage son, who was suffering an asthma attack, to hospital themselves because the only ambulance stationed at nearby Cessnock was attending a job nearly 30km away, and the nearest ambulance from a neighbouring station was another 30km away.
It was the second time in less than three months that a Hunter Region family has spoken out about ambulance delays. A Lake Macquarie grandmother suffering a stroke on Easter weekend waited an hour-and-a-half for an ambulance to arrive to a property at Lostock, in the Hunter Valley.
Fortunately, on both occasions, those requiring emergency medical care survived. And on both occasions NSW Ambulance issued a statement saying the closest-available crews were dispatched.
But any delay in receiving emergency treatment is alarming for a community that automatically assumes it will receive a timely response during its hour of need.
In its budget last year, the NSW government promised more than 700 paramedics and ambulance call centre staff over four years, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying "providing world-class care for patients is a priority for the NSW government".
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said at the time: "We identified that the community needed more paramedics and that our valued paramedics needed more resources to properly do their job."
Two hundred of those paramedics should have been employed and trained in the past 12 months.
Next week, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet will hand down the state's latest budget. We can only hope that this previous promise is upheld, and built upon if necessary, as indicated by the APA's Mr Kastelan.
Because while the two people mentioned in the above cases were lucky enough to escape their ordeals; without a timely, reliable and well-staffed ambulance service, lives will most definitely be lost. Here's hoping any shortfall can be addressed before it becomes its own emergency.