Lake Macquarie paramedic Tony Jenkins’ suicide in April raises serious questions for NSW Ambulance

Hunter paramedic’s family asks: ‘Where was the care for Tony?’ Plans: Mrs Jenkins with one of her husband’s uniforms. They had planned to travel to Bali together in May, and to Italy in September. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.
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Tragic: Hunter paramedic Tony Jenkins’ suicide after a meeting with NSW Ambulance about Fentanyl abuse has devastated his family and shattered colleagues.

Questions: Sharon Jenkins and daughters Cidney (left) and Kim with family dog Louie. The family was shattered by Tony Jenkins’ death. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

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Text message sent to Tony Jenkins by senior NSW Ambulance officerIf our fact-finding shows anything to the contrary then I’ll be the first person to take that to Sharon and the rest of the family and admit that we did fail in our duty of care.

NSW Ambulance chief executive Dominic Morgan

In recent years he suffered from workplace anxiety and stress over increasing violence against paramedics on the job, particularly involving drugs. Emails showed complaints about paramedics being sent to potentially violent jobs without adequate information.

Kim Jenkins said the locker revealed “a mountain of correspondence about Dad trying to get things changed”. They also revealed a man who despaired of that change occurring.

In one document he writes about “waging a losing battle” after a potentially violent incident and when “nothing happened in the service I just kept my own list of dangerous jobs we were being sent to”.

Searching: Mrs Jenkins with Tony Jenkins’ nephew Shayne Connell. They were together when told Mr Jenkins had died. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

“I felt it was causing me more anxiety trying to sort of take on this cause so I just said ‘F…it’and decided to get on with my job,” Mr Jenkins wrote more than a decade ago.

Mr and Mrs Jenkins and daughter Cidney were to fly to Bali on May 7 for a holiday. There was a longer trip for the husband and wife in September, to Italy. They had already paidthe $12,000 cost.

“There was no pre-planning in what he did when he died. Tony was a very organised person. If he was planning anything he would have set things up but there was nothing. Financially he prepared nothing,” Mrs Jenkins said.

His nephew Shayne Connell, a Cancer Council manager, said there were no explanations for Mr Jenkins’ suicide, other than events on April 9.

“For the family the only trigger was that day at work,” he said.

Documents obtained by the ABC found there have been almost 100 investigations into paramedics misappropriating addictive drugs in over the past eight years, with 36 in NSW.

NSW Ambulance chief executive Dominic Morgan defended the service’s handling of events around Mr Jenkins’ death but “if our fact-finding shows anything to the contrary then I’ll be the first person to take that to Sharon and the rest of the family and admit that we did fail in our duty of care”, he said in an ABC interview.

“He was this well-respected, well-regarded professional and it concerns me greatly that a person with that reputation could find themselves so desperate that their only option was to turn to drugs and addiction,” he said.

Lifeline: 131114.

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