Faster ambulance response times in Gippsland

Statistics show the average response time for Ambulance Victoria 'lights and sirens' cases in Gippsland is 15 minutes. Photo: File

AMBULANCE Victoria (AV) says their paramedics are reaching patients in the Gippsland region faster than a year ago, despite another record-breaking quarter for emergency ambulance demand.

Acting Gippsland Regional Director, Stuart Reid said the average response time to Code 1 “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 1 emergencies improved a full minute and 46 seconds across Victoria compared to a year ago,” Mr Reid 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 AV’s history, with 154,267 emergency cases. This includes 99,833 Code 1 cases – the second most on record – and 54,434 Code 2 cases.

Between October and December 2023, paramedics across Victoria responded to 67.3 per cent of Code 1 cases within the statewide target of 15 minutes – up from 66 per cent for the previous three months and 7.1 percentage points better than 60.2 per cent a year ago.

Performance against the 15-minute target for Code 1 cases improved in 74 of Victoria’s 79 Local Government Areas (LGAs) compared to a year ago. In the Gippsland Region, the biggest improvements were in the Latrobe, South Gippsland, Baw Baw and Wellington LGAs.

In the Gippsland region:

Paramedics attended 86.3 per cent of Code 1 patients within 15 minutes in the Morwell major population centre – the third-best result in the state;

Across the Latrobe LGA, paramedics attended 73.5 per cent of Code 1 patients within 15 minutes – up from 68.4 per cent a year earlier;

In the Wellington LGA, the average response time to Code 1 patients was 18 minutes and 28 seconds, an improvement from 19 minutes and 58 seconds a year ago, and;

Compared to a year ago, response times to Code 1 patients were 49 seconds faster in the South Gippsland LGA and 57 seconds faster in the Baw Baw LGA.

AV Executive Director 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 AV’s Secondary Triage team,” Mr Carlyon said.

“There are now so many options for people in the community to get timely, non-urgent health advice and save Triple Zero (000) for emergencies.

“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.

“Since October 2021, paramedics have referred more than 56,000 patients to the VVED, while a further 5400 have been referred to the VVED following assessment by our Secondary Triage team.

“Other options also include your local Priority Primary Care Centre, your GP or pharmacist, or Nurse-On-Call on 1300 60 60 24.

“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.”