A BACKLOG of cases prompted Victoria’s ambulance service to activate an emergency response plan normally reserved for mass-casualty accidents on Monday night, for the second time in three months.
A spokesman for Ambulance Victoria confirmed the service called a ”code-orange” alert for about an hour from 11.30pm to help manage a high caseload.
The code is the second-highest level of alert in the state’s Health Emergency Response Plan and puts doctors on notice that they can be called in to help. It was designed to manage healthcare for disasters such as bushfires and mass-casualty accidents.
A source said the code-orange call came as about 40 patients were waiting for an ambulance, including a code-one emergency case that had been waiting for 45 minutes.
Code-one cases are critical, life-threatening situations that the ambulance service aims to treat within 15 minutes.
Ambulance Employees Association state secretary Steve McGhie said the code-orange call showed the service could not cope with normal demand.
”This is just day-to-day business, it shows they can’t cope because they haven’t got enough resources,” he said.
”You’ve got up to 42 cases waiting at 11.30 at night, they resort to code orange to stop ambulance crews having meal breaks and force them to work after the end of their shifts when they’ve already done 12 or 14 hours. It’s a misuse of code orange.”
The ambulance service also called a code-orange alert on July 18, between midnight and 8.30pm, due to high levels of winter illness.
Ambulance Victoria spokesman Danny McGennisken said the calls were ”part of normal business processes and the emergency response plan was developed to help us manage these circumstances.
”It allows us to manage caseload as required and call in additional resources if they are needed.”
Opposition parliamentary secretary for health Wade Noonan said the ambulance service was in crisis.
”Response times are getting longer, ambulances are being parked up for hours outside emergency departments and now the service is having to implement emergency response plans to cope with normal business operations,” he said.
”There is nothing routine about this. The emergency response plan is reserved for incidents involving mass casualties, such as natural disasters.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.