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Ambulance Victoria CEO Greg Sassella has thanked paramedics and the community for their efforts during this week’s heatwave.
On Friday a record 2553 tripe zero calls ambulance calls answered by the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA), an increase of about 30 per cent on Monday’s call volume.
Thursday’s 2506 ambulance triple zero calls was the second highest number of ambulance calls ever answered by ESTA.
Mr Sassella said paramedics did an outstanding job to cope with the demand in very trying circumstances.
‘While many people were able to escape the heat by staying inside with the air-conditioner on, our paramedics, Ambulance Community Officers and Community Emergency Response Teams were working outside helping their communities throughout the unprecedented heatwave,’ Mr Sassella said.
‘We had numerous paramedics volunteer to work extra shifts to boost ambulance response.
‘They were supported by extra paramedics in our dispatch and call referral centres, rosters, fleet and logistics, and our Ambulance Emergency Operations Centre which operated at the second highest level of response under the State Health Emergency Response Plan.
‘Our Ambulance Community Officers and Community Emergency Response Teams had the additional difficulty of juggling ambulance and other work commitments, while some of them and our paramedics also faced fire threats to their own homes.
‘Unfortunately we experienced similar challenges in 2009 during the heat wave and black Saturday of that time and this would also have preyed on the minds of our staff and those of other emergency services.
‘Thanks also to Victoria Police, the ESTA call takers and dispatchers, Non-Emergency Patient Transport crews and other agencies we worked alongside this week.
‘The MFB provided extra Emergency Medical Response (EMR) capability to assist with the increase in calls to unresponsive and non-breathing patients which includes cardiac arrests.
‘Cardiac arrest calls yesterday were up 700 per cent on earlier in the week, with 77 calls yesterday alone. At one stage cardiac arrest calls were coming through on average every six minutes.
‘There was a massive increase in heat exhaustion cases with almost 500 calls from Monday until midday today.’
‘Unfortunately on the four days where the mercury was above 40, we were also called to a total of 39 cases of children left in cars.
‘While there may have been some delays in attending low acuity patients, we responded quickly to life threatening cases.
During the heatwave Ambulance Victoria urged people with minor ailments not to call triple zero.
Mr Sassella thanked the community for their understanding and asked that they continue to be responsible when calling for an ambulance.
‘If you are suffering chest pain or any other serious medical condition, then certainly call triple zero. If you are not sure, call triple zero and the call takers can establish if you need an ambulance or if another health solution is more appropriate,’ Mr Sassella said.
Statewide calls to Ambulance Victoria during heatwave
Kids in cars
** Cardiac arrest figures are preliminary. The Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry (VACAR) publishes annual cardiac arrest statistics. VACAR is one of the largest pre-hospital cardiac arrest registries in the world and supports a significant research program into the care of cardiac arrest patients by AV
Regional breakdown of Heat Exhaustion cases
Barwon - South West