MORE than 30 per cent of code one calls to Ambulance Victoria in the Grampians region are not responded to within 15 minutes.Freedom of Information documents obtained by The Courier reveal response times for critical calls in the Grampians Region have worsened in the past 12 months.In the Central Grampians in June 2009, 496 code one first response calls were made, with just 340 calls - or 68.5 perthcent - responded to within 15 minutes.In June 2010, there were 546 calls made, with 379 - or 69.4 per cent - responded to within 15 minutes.However in the Wimmera, the times are worse with a 6 per cent drop in the number of calls responded to within 15 minutes.Ambulance Employees Australia state secretary Steve McGhie said the figures were atrocious."Clearly it's got to do with increased caseload and no corresponding increase in resourcing levels," he said."It means ambulances have to travel further to cases and that's why response times are so much longer."There's not enough ambulances in areas where the figures are bad and ambulances have to come from a lot further away."Ambulance Victoria acting regional manager Grant Hocking conceded there had been an increase in demand for ambulances."The number of ambulance calls in the area increased by 11 per cent over the year, so our paramedics are working harder than ever and that is having an impact on our response times," he said."We certainly acknowledge this though and are looking forward to the 234 regional paramedic recruits starting this financial year to help with the workload."The government benchmark for code one response times is 85 per cent for towns with a population greater than 7500, such as Horsham and Ballarat.However, the data provided relates to service regions, which cover numerous towns.A code one call is a time critical case with a lights and sirens ambulance response, for example a cardiac arrest or serious traffic accident.A code two call is an acute but non-time critical response, such as a broken leg.This week, Ambulance Victoria came under fire following the death of a Melbourne man on Saturday night after he waited three hours for an ambulance.Last week, a Maryborough man was forced to take a two-hour taxi ride to a Melbourne hospital due to an ambulance shortage.Earlier this year, Maryborough man Dick Gougedied after an ambulance took 38 minutes to arrive following a suspected heart attack.Mr Hocking said they were in the process of reviewing Ambulance Victoria."The Auditor General has also undertaken a thorough, independent review of our statewide service, resourcing and response times which will be released shortly," he said."As such we don't want to pre-empt those findings but will wait for any recommendations."
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