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How We Manage Demand

How we manage major incidents and demand to provide best care to patients

Ambulance Victoria (AV) has a detailed state-wide Emergency Response Plan to effectively manage surges in workload and demand, and for significant or prolonged incidents.

Our plan may be implemented for various events including, natural disasters such as bushfires or floods, multi casualty motor vehicle accidents, industrial emergencies or complex searches and rescues. 

As part of our plan, an escalation process details the steps we take during busy periods to ensure we continue to provide the best care to the community, especially for people who need us most.

While our escalation process is an internal framework designed for AV and our partners, this page outlines some of the steps we take and the things you can do to help us.

What is AV’s escalation process?

We constantly monitor our workload – patients we are treating and transporting – and our demand – how many people in the community need our services.

Our escalation process is enacted when increases in workload or demand start to impact on the availability of ambulances for emergencies.

We alert our people and partners of increases in community demand for our services, and the steps we are implementing to ensure we can continue delivering care to our sickest patients.

We have three escalation levels to allow us to increase our response as we recognise the signs of increased workload or demand: Green, Orange, and Red.

    Green Escalation

  • A green escalation indicates an incident, workload or demand is having an impact on the availability of ambulances in the community.
  • We intervene by implementing strategies to reduce the impact, such as additional staff or moving ambulance crews around to provide coverage for areas more in need.

    Orange Escalation

  • An orange escalation indicates an incident, workload or demand is having a major impact on our usual response capability.

  • To manage this period, we will call in additional staff, refer lower acuity patients to other appropriate services, work with other health services to remove blockages, and may remind the community to Save 000 for Emergencies.

    Red Escalation

  • A red escalation is a sign that we are experiencing severe impact on normal operations due to extreme workload or demand.

  • We continue to implement the steps taken for Green and Orange escalation, and will also be working hard behind the scenes with hospitals to free up emergency ambulances, refer lower acuity patients to other services, and add patient transport services to our emergency response.

  • At this stage we alert the community so that people are aware of the pressures we are experiencing and can make informed decisions about their health issue.

  • Callers to Triple Zero (000) are alerted to the delays, and Community Information notices are issued through AV’s social media accounts. In rare circumstances we may also issue a Community Warning through the VicEmergency app so make sure you’re following us and have the VicEmergency app on your phone.

  • If you see a Community Information notice issued, you’ll know that we are prioritising our sickest patients first so you may experience a delay in an ambulance reaching you. 

Where to go for help

In an emergency, or if you are unsure if it is an emergency, please call Triple Zero (000).

Be aware that our priority is always to provide care to Victorians who require life-saving assistance.

If your issue is not an emergency, please call NURSE-ON-CALL (1300 60 60 24) or visit your local GP or pharmacist.  These are great options for non-emergency medical issues.

For more information:

For mental health concerns, there are many resources you can access to get support:

For COVID-related issues that are not an emergency, call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit