THE Grampians region was left one ambulance team short on at least 30 occasions in the past 10 months, according to ambulance staff data sheets.However, The Courier understands that these figures show only part of the problem faced by the ambulance service in the region.The Courier believes that more extensive figures show there were 33 dropped shifts in the Grampians region in January and March this year alone.According to the dropped shift grids, from January 1 until October 12 this year, Ballarat, Wendouree, Sebastopol, Ballan, Daylesford, Stawell, Ararat and Avoca were left one paramedic team short because members were either unavailable or Ambulance Victoria chose not to fill those shifts.Ballarat, Sebastopol and Wendouree had entire shifts dropped on at least 10 occasions since the beginning of the year, while in other instances the teams were sent to back up units in other parts of the state, according to the dropped shift grids. Ambulance Employees Association secretary Steve McGhie said the dropped shift data was another example of how under-resourced paramedics were in Victoria. "It highlights the shortage of paramedics and how difficult working conditions are for them," Mr McGhie said.He said the dropped shift grids were provided by the paramedics and was not a true reflection of the situation. "Ambulance Victoria has an extensive list with anecdotal data."Mr McGhie said information received under the Freedom of Information Act showed there were 1070 dropped shifts across Victoria between January 1 and May 31 this year. Of those figures, 449 were in Melbourne and the rest were in regional Victoria. These latest figures follow last week's vote of no confidence lodged with AV by Ballarat paramedics. Ballarat East MP Geoff Howard said the state government was recruiting more paramedics for the state, with 234 earmarked for regional Victoria. Liberal candidate for Ballarat West, Craig Coltman, said the figures were indicative of the manpower shortage in the ambulance service.
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