Tasmania’s firefighters are uniting behind a seriously injured colleague who is fighting a legal battle over funding for his medical costs.
United Firefighters Union Tasmania vice president Leigh Hills said firefighter Robert Boost, 35, was working as a remote area team firefighter on deployment at a fire in the South West wilderness area in February 2016 when a branch fell from a tree hitting him on the head.
“Although wearing a helmet at the time of this accident, Rob has been left with a brain injury resulting in long lasting and debilitating symptoms,” Mr Hills said.
“Rob’s brain injury has left him with chronic pain, insufferable migraines as well as post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. This has had a massive impact on Rob’s quality of life.
“Rob’s hospital stays, trips to doctors and specialists are too numerous to count and the toll this has taken on his young family and those close to him has been profound.”
The recommended treatments include infusions for chronic pain relief and the trial of a neurostimulator.
Mr Hills said Mr Boost, who has two young children, had been discharged from hospital and had returned to work two days a week on light duties.
He said the cost of his treatment ranged between $24,000 and $30,000.
Mr Hill said Mr Boost was recently notified by the Tasmania Fire Service’s insurer, Allianz, that they would no longer pay costs associated with some treatment prescribed by his medical team.
He said Mr Boost would take his case to the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal.
“The decision by Allianz is based on recommendations from their medical expert whose last consult with Robert Boost was in February 2017,” Mr Hill said.
“With the Tasmania Fire Service and Allianz refusing to pay for the recommended treatments Rob has been left in a terrible position.
“Rob is currently seeking legal advice and is facing the possibility of having to challenge the insurer in court, all so he can simply receive the ongoing treatment recommended by his medical team for the injury he sustained at work.”
Mr Boost who lives on the Tasman Peninsula has sold some personal belongings to pay for treatment but work colleagues have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him and his family.
Mr Hills is hoping it will raise $50,000.
"Compensation payments continue to be made and the claim is being handled in accordance with the Tasmanian Workers' Compensation legislation," an Allianz spokesperson said in a statement.