Ambulances under strain amid staff shortages

January 25, 2022 BY

The region's paramedics are grappling with extreme demand during the pandemic. Photo: AMBULANCE VICTORIA

LOCAL paramedics are under pressure from “unprecedented” demand for ambulance services as a surge in COVID-19 cases strain the Victorian healthcare system.

Ambulance Victoria (AV) had 420 staff in isolation across the state last week as a result of the Omicron outbreak as callouts rise, prompting a reminder for patients to reserve ambulance calls for emergencies.

AV Barwon south-west regional director Jerome Peyton said health authorities were preparing for the surge in demand to last for several more weeks.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant and unprecedented impact on health systems including Ambulance Victoria and hospital emergency departments,” he said.

“Our AV and partner agency staff in Barwon South West are working extremely hard to manage the increasing demand while prioritising care to the sickest Victorians.

“Here in the Barwon South West region, we are continuing to see a very high demand for emergency care, and this is expected to continue for a number of weeks, especially with more visitors to the region than usual.”

AV says that people infected with COVID-19 can ease strain on the ambulance network and ensure the safety of paramedics by getting access to healthcare through other avenues, such as nurse on call, their GP or COVID Positive Pathway contacts.

Callouts for minor symptoms clog the ambulance system and slow down responses for urgent cases.

“We are asking all community members to help us by saving Triple Zero for emergencies,” Mr Peyton said.

“Every call for assistance that isn’t an emergency puts significant strain on our crews to reach those patients who need us the most.”