BALLARAT has been identified as a high-risk area for problems in its ambulance service, including limited specialist paramedics, a high overtime work rate and long response times.The city, along with Ararat, Avoca and Daylesford, was among 16 country towns revealed as black spots in leaked Ambulance Victoria documents.The Victorian general secretary of Ambulance Employees Australia, Steve McGhie, said the documents confirmed that the state's ambulance service was in crisis."I believe the ambulance service is in crisis. They admit to that by some of their own documents,'' Mr McGhie said. Mr McGhie's comments came after a report in the Sunday Herald-Sun said the "branch continuity plans'' revealed black spots in several parts of the state."Quite often these areas are left uncovered, there are no immediate ambulance resources available, or for some, shifts are left unfilled, sometimes not even staffed,'' Mr McGhie said.Although the Ballarat branch can staff day shifts, it has a high overtime work rate for the region, and has an "insufficient'' Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance unit. Mr McGhie said the resource pool was not large enough to ensure the city was covered by a MICA unit all day, every day.The Avoca and Daylesford branches have single ambulance officers and rely on community volunteers."They rely on community officers to support paramedics. They work such heavy hours that when they are on a tea break, they are not replaced,'' Mr McGhie said. Mr McGhie said there was not enough staff to meet the minimum standard of rostering."They have to employ more paramedics, the government has to give them more funding,'' he said. "They have to put resources in these towns and they have to do that immediately."
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