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    Horsham Ambulance Station.

Praise for paramedics under pressure

Ambulance Victoria paramedics are reaching patients in the Grampians Region faster than a year ago, despite another record-breaking quarter for emergency ambulance demand.

Compared with the previous quarter, West Wimmera paramedics attended 35.6 percent of code one patients within 15 minutes – up from 22.7 percent. The improvement was the biggest in the state.

Compared with the previous year, response times to code one patients were three minutes and seven seconds faster in the Ararat municipality.

Paramedics in the Horsham municipality attended 78.4 percent of code one patients within 15 minutes – the second-best result in the state.

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Grampians regional director Peter Jenkins said the average response time to code one – lights and sirens – cases across Victoria was now under 15 minutes for the first time in more than two years.

“While there is more work ahead of us, it is encouraging our response to code one emergencies improved a full minute and 46 seconds across Victoria compared to a year ago,” he said.

“The Productivity Commission’s recent report on government services shows Victoria has Australia’s most trusted paramedics and leads the nation in cardiac arrest survival and pain management.

“Our dedicated paramedics and first responders are to be commended for the outstanding care they deliver to communities across the state.”

The last quarter of 2023 was the busiest in Ambulance Victoria’s history, with 154,267 emergency cases.

This included 99,833 code one cases – the second most on record – and 54,434 code two cases.

Between October and December 2023, paramedics across Victoria responded to 67.3 percent of code one cases within the statewide target of 15 minutes.

Performance against the 15-minute target for code one cases improved in 74 of Victoria’s 79 local government areas, compared to a year ago.

In the Grampians region, the biggest improvements were in the Moorabool, Ararat, Pyrenees, Yarriambiack, Northern Grampians and West Wimmera municipalities.

Alternative care

Ambulance Victoria executive director of clinical operations Anthony Carlyon said improved performance followed increased use of alternative and virtual care services for people in the community who did not require an ambulance.

“From October to December 2023, 38,695 people who did not need an emergency ambulance were instead connected to more appropriate care by paramedics and nurses in Ambulance Victoria’s secondary triage team,” he said.

“There are now so many options for people in the community to get timely, non-urgent health advice.

“For non-life-threatening matters, you can connect directly with emergency doctors and nurses at the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department, VVED – from anywhere in Victoria, at any time.”

Mr Carlyon said since October 2021, paramedics had referred more than 56,000 patients to the VVED, and a further 5400 had been referred following assessment by a secondary triage team.

“While we continue to work with hospitals to improve transfer times, avoiding unnecessary ambulance attendances and trips to hospital relieves pressure in the health system and means paramedics are more available for emergencies in the community,” he said.

Mr Carlyon said other healthcare options included a local Priority Primary Care Centre, GP or pharmacist, or Nurse-On-Call at 1300 60 60 24.

The State Government, with Victoria University, announced $20 million would be invested in the future Centre for Paramedicine. On track to open in 2026, the Australian-
first centre will feature high-tech training equipment and life-size replicas of environments for paramedics to practice simulated emergencies.

The new centre will also serve as a hub for paramedics already working with Ambulance Victoria to improve their skills, learn new techniques and stay up-to-date with the latest in best practice.

Ambulance Services Minister Mary-Anne Thomas confirmed last week the university would contribute $10 million to the project.

“The latest data makes it clear that despite record levels of demand, our dedicated healthcare workers are making sure Victorians continue to get the care they need,” she said.

“This new Centre for Paramedicine will be a home of the latest technology and make sure our paramedics are getting the training they need to deliver the care Victorians deserve.”

The entire February 7, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!