A 90-YEAR-OLD Ballarat woman waited almost an hour for ambulances to arrive after she fell in her home last week.The emergency call centre, in Geelong, was notified of the incident at 4.35pm but the first ambulance did not arrive at the scene until 47 minutes later.Further assistance was required, and the second ambulance arrived after another 10 minutes, before the woman was taken to hospital.The woman lives with her 92-year-old husband, who is believed to have called the ambulance when his wife fell.According to the Victorian general secretary of Ambulance Employees Australia, Steve McGhie, operation workers at the call centre were not aware that there were two ambulances available at the time of the call."We think what has occurred is a system error and we predicted this some time ago," Mr McGhie said."They may know where the incidents are but they may not know where the ambulances are."Mr McGhie said the problem of an under-resourced call centre in Geelong contributed to the slow response.He said an increased case load for paramedics, coupled with the ongoing issue of ambulance shortages in the Grampians region, were of constant concern.Ambulance Victoria Grampians region general manager Greg Leach said the incident occurred because of ambulance unavailability, and not because of any system errors."It was just that all our available cars were at other jobs," Mr Leach said."This does happen from time to time and (we) try to prioritise to provide the ambulance to the sickest people." Mr Leach said the ongoing issue of ambulance shortages was being addressed and as demand grew for cases every year, so did the requirement to recruit more paramedics."It's regrettable that it took 47 minutes to provide the service, particularly to one of our senior citizens," he said Later this year, an influx of paramedic graduates is expected to boost numbers at Ambulance Victoria.
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