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Paramedics reaching sickest patients faster

December 19, 2018 | in News

Victorians in need of emergency care have received the fastest paramedic response in almost a decade, according to figures released today in the 2017-2018 Ambulance Victoria Annual Report.

The annual report reveals that in the year to 30 June 2018, Ambulance Victoria recorded a Code 1 response time performance of 81.8 per cent of cases within 15 minutes, up from 78.3 per cent in the previous year and the best response time since 2008-2009. Response time improvements were recorded across the state.

Ambulance Victoria CEO Associate Professor Tony Walker said the improved Code 1 response times were the result of the transformational, sector-leading initiatives that have been introduced over the past two years.

“What this means for patients, whether they are critical or less serious, is that we are getting to them quicker than we have for a very long time,” he said.

“This year we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Ambulance Victoria and, through our new five-year Strategic Plan, we have taken further strides in creating a modern, sustainable ambulance service for all Victorians.

“We continued to deliver on the Government’s $500 million investment in our service with the recruitment of 170 additional paramedics and additional resources, such as the opening of six Super Response Centres in Melbourne to provide a more flexible, scalable and mobile workforce,” he said

“This year was the first full year of our revised Clinical Response Model which has changed the way we dispatch ambulances to ensure we get the right care to the right patients at the right time, based on their clinical need.”

“We also marked the 10th anniversary of Adult Retrieval Victoria, which handled a record 5178 cases during the year. This service transfers critically ill adult patients between hospitals, in particular providing rural patients with access to expert care in metropolitan hospitals.”

The Annual Report shows significant achievements including:

  • Improved patient treatment with 97.5 per cent of adults with a suspected stroke transported to specialist care or given access to specialist telemedicine within 60 minutes
  • 97.9 per cent of patients reporting their experience with Ambulance Victoria as good or very good
  • The introduction of Australia’s first mobile stroke ambulance in partnership with the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Florey Institute and the Stroke Foundation providing specialist stroke care for patients
  • The launch of the revolutionary GoodSAM Responder smartphone app which alerts nearby registered community responders to a suspected cardiac arrest. The app directly contributed to saving two Victorian lives in its first months of operation.
  • Recruitment of Ambulance Victoria’s first peer support dog, Bruce, a golden retriever who is providing support for the mental health and wellbeing of staff
  • Introduction of Best Care, a new patient care commitment across the organisation
  • Introduction of a Community and Stakeholder Engagement Framework and Action Plan to build and embed stronger relationships across the community and giving the community an opportunity to tell us their ideas on how we can work better together to deliver the best possible emergency health care for everyone
  • Introduction of new health pathways in our secondary triage area including the use of mental health nurses and telehealth services to connect low acuity patients to other appropriate services to better meet their needs
  • Assuming the management of the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine service, which can access the skills of a neurologist 24 hours a day to deliver integrated stroke care across the state
  • A continued organisational focus on reducing occupational violence, including a trial of body-worn cameras and the introduction of ground-breaking virtual reality training for staff, which has seen a marked reduction in assaults against our paramedics
  • Introduction of a collaborative community response program at the Aboriginal community at Lake Tyers (Bung Yarnda), which reduced response times by 75 per cent
  • Continuation of a comprehensive research program, with 65 active projects including a number of world-leading clinical trials
  • Expansion of the Emergency Medical Response program, training firefighters at nine more Country Fire Authority fire stations to respond to suspected cardiac arrest cases
  • Commemoration of the anniversary of the first female paramedics in Victoria in 1987.

During the year, Ambulance Victoria was also recognised with awards for its work in leading the way with health, safety and wellbeing programs for its staff, contributing to a significant improvement in the Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate.

It was further awarded for its work in promoting indigenous employment through its Aboriginal Cadet program.

During the year, AV also commenced a review of its frontline organisational structure to provide enhanced in-field supervision and health and safety for staff to ensure an optimal structure to provide best care to the Victorian community.

“Great patient care can only be provided by a safe, engaged and operationally ready workforce,” Associate Professor Walker said. “Central to our much improved performance has been the outstanding hard work and commitment of our paramedics, volunteers and corporate staff, who have worked together to help deliver improved patient care to all Victorians.”

2017 – 2018 Annual Report