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Ambulance Victoria meets sharp rise in flu season demand

August 1, 2019 | in News, Operations

Ambulance Victoria has posted its best Quarter 4 response performance, even with an extra 8525 Code 1 emergency patients than the same time last year.

Paramedics responded to 75,398 Code 1 cases from April to June – a 12.7 per cent increase in demand than for the same period in 2018.

They reached 84.0 per cent of Code 1 cases within 15 minutes, a 0.2 percentage point improvement, and maintained an average response time to Code 1 cases of 11 minutes and 12 seconds.

Ambulance Victoria CEO Tony Walker said the sharp rise in demand and the types of patients paramedics were seeing reflected a more prevalent than usual flu season.

The most recent Victorian Weekly Influenza Report shows that cases are tracking over twelve times higher than for the same time in 2018, and above expected levels for this time of the year.

“Not only are we seeing more cases, we are seeing more higher-acuity respiratory and cardiac cases during the influenza season that require an emergency ambulance,” Associate Professor Walker said.

“Cardiac and respiratory cases are unsuitable for referral to other care options through our Triple Zero secondary triage and often result in admission to hospital. This in turn places extra pressure on the entire health system including ambulance.

“It is a credit to our entire workforce, including paramedics, patient transport and communications personnel, that we have continued to manage this exceptional and growing demand.

“It is also testament to significant reforms we introduced to provide the most appropriate response to all patients and ensure ambulances are available for emergencies.”

It is not too late to be vaccinated. Flu vaccine is recommended annually for all people from six months of age and highly recommended for higher risk groups such as older people, pregnant women and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Associate Professor Walker said Ambulance Victoria strived to give patients a safe, caring, effective and connected experience, with response times just one of the measures used.

“Our goal is to provide every patient the right care, treatment, advice or transport,” he said.

“To achieve the best outcome and experience for each patient, we work as a team to provide and support care that is safe, best practice and high quality; by staff that are skilled and striving for excellence.”

Read more: Ambulance Victoria Performance 2018/19 Quarter 4