Ballarat ambulance crews stretched thin during heatwave

PARAMEDICS in Ballarat were stretched yesterday, with fewer ambulance crews available than planned as temperatures continued to soar. 

As the region sweltered during the fourth consecutive day above 35 degrees, Ambulance Victoria staff shortages meant Ballarat was down one crew on its planned paramedic numbers for the day.

Ambulance Victoria also confirmed Beaufort was without paramedics for the whole day, due to staff calling in sick, with Grampians crews responding to 11 cases of heat exhaustion since Monday.

In Daylesford, CFA fire crews gave first aid to two people who suffered minor burns in a house fire on Raglan Street.

Ambulance Victoria Grampians regional manager Greg Leach said paramedics arrived 22 minutes after the initial call, as the Daylesford crew was busy with another case.

He said the nearest crew was dispatched, which included a team manager and MICA single responder from Ballarat, and they took the patients to Ballarat Base Hospital.

The state government benchmark response time for code-one critical cases is 15 minutes.

Ambulance Employees Australia Victorian secretary Steve McGhie said the extra Ballarat crew that was rostered on could have responded to the job faster.

He said Ambulance Victoria and the state government needed to maintain minimum staff requirements on days of extreme heat. 

“They just didn’t do that, it’s not good enough,” Mr McGhie said. 

“It’s putting lives at risk.”

Mr McGhie said the move was especially risky with the extreme fire conditions affecting the region and the blaze that flared up on Monday at Trawalla, near Beaufort.

Statewide, Ambulance Victoria said its overall workload has increased almost 20 per cent since Monday.

tom.cowie@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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