MELBOURNE: Hundreds of Victorians have been left waiting for ambulances and the delays are expected to continue as the emergency response system struggles with “extreme demand”.
A “code red” for ambulance services in Greater Melbourne was triggered by “extreme demand” overnight, marking the third time the code has ever been declared.
Metropolitan Victoria residents were warned on Twitter to expect delays during the situation that lasted for about three and a half hours into Wednesday morning.
At its peak, more than 100 cases were pending at once, while at least one patient was forced to wait two hours for help.
The “code red”, which is reserved for “rare events” of “extremely high demand”, was only previously enacted during the black Saturday bushfires, a 2019 bus crash and in December 2020.
“Ambulance Victoria is experiencing an extremely high demand for ambulances in the metropolitan region,” Ambulance Victoria said, not long after midnight on Wednesday.
“It is likely there will be a delay in an ambulance reaching you.”
Just after 3am, the service said the “code red” had been downgraded as “demand for ambulance services has eased”.
Just before Christmas, the Victorian Ambulance Union revealed mobile intensive care ambulances had been unable to attend several serious callouts because demand was outstripping supply.
“What we’re seeing is the resources are so thin, that our MICA paramedics, which should be reserved for the highest acuity cases – they’re just being sent to patients with back pain, intoxicated patients, patients who are vomiting,” he said.
“That’s not what they’re there for.
“A patient’s outcome will be poor if MICA paramedics don’t attend.”
Victorians were reminded to call NURSE ON CALL or visit their local GP for their less severe issues, saving triple zero calls for emergencies.