Ambulance records have been broken in Victoria for the third straight quarter, data released on Saturday shows.
In a statement, Ambulance Victoria said Covid sicker patients resulting from deferred care and staff furloughs had created record demand for ambulances, up 16 per cent from the previous quarter.
The data showed that from April through June this year, ambulances responded to 97,928 “Code One” cases statewide — a staggering increase of more than 13,000 from the same time last year.
Ambulance Victoria said the number was also nearly 5,000 more than from January to March this year.
The average response rate statewide was 15 minutes and 49 seconds, the data shows.
Felicity Topp, Ambulance Victoria’s interim managing director, said Covid continued to pose a risk.
“There are no signs that demand will slow down in winter. Covid-19 continues to pose a high risk to Victorians and will continue to do so for some time to come,” Ms Topp said on Saturday.
To meet demand, Ms Topp said Ambulance Victoria has overseen a huge expansion in the number of paramedics and triage services and has encouraged the use of the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department.
She said a record 700 paramedics were recruited last year, while 400 have already been recruited this year.
From April to June, more than 8,000 patients were referred to the virtual emergency department, the data showed.
“If the patient does not appear to need immediate transport to the emergency room, paramedics can schedule a video consultation with an ER doctor or nurse to determine if care can be provided safely and effectively at home,” Ms. Topp said.
She said that “thousands of patients” have been treated at home using this method.
Originally posted as Victoria’s ambulance crisis sparks alert over ‘extremely high’ demand