31 January 2018

More staff to ensure ambulance and fire services remain best responders in Australia

| Ian Bushnell
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File image from ACT Ambulance website.

The ACT’s public hospitals may have received a poor report card from the Productivity Commission but the service that transport patients there continues to score top marks.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said that despite increasing demand for emergency services in Canberra, the ACT had recorded the best response times in the country, according to the latest Report on Government Services.

Mr Gentleman said that for the sixth year in a row, ACT Ambulance Service response times were the best in the country.

He said the report showed increased demand for ambulance services, which meant that response times were seconds slower than last financial year but extra frontline resources hitting the road this year would ensure response times remained the fastest.

The new staff would help ACTAS meet its aspirational target of having 10 ambulance crews at the ready at any one time, and a further two ambulances available during peak periods. The recruitment under way of another 11 paramedics will add to the 23 new staff recruited last December.

The report said that in 2016-17, the time within which 90 per cent of first responding ambulance resources arrived at the scene of an emergency in code 1 situation in capital cities ranged from
14.3 minutes (ACT) to 23.3 minutes (NT), and state-wide ranged from 14.3 minutes (ACT) to 31.4 minutes (Tasmania).

The average cost per person of the service compared favourably with other jurisdictions at $118.74, compared with a national figure of $129.72.

Patient satisfaction was high, with the proportion of patients who felt that the level of care provided to them by paramedics was very good or good at 97 per cent equal to the national figure.

The proportion of patients whose level of trust and confidence in paramedics and their ability to provide quality care and treatment was very high or high was 92 per cent, again equal to the national result.

The Minister said that for the second year in a row, ACT Fire & Rescue was the fastest responder to structure fires in the country, excluding call times, at 9.1 minutes, with Tasmania recording the longest response time of 16.7 minutes.

However, the service’s cost per person was the third highest in the country at $206.74, behind the Northern Territory ($242.81 ) and Victoria ($238.69). The national average was $166.63.

Mr Gentleman said the ACT Government is committed to delivering world-class emergency services to the community.

“Investment in our fire services ensures that we meet community demand, the wellbeing of our staff is well managed, and the ACT community receive value for money from our commitment to delivering top-ranking emergency services,” he said.

“As the fire productivity shows, ACT Fire & Rescue remain the fastest fire service in the nation despite increases in demand. Our costs per personnel remain lower than other jurisdictions, and do not fall far above the national average.”

He said the ACT Government would this year bring on line an additional crew at Ainslie Fire Station, which is being prepared for an upgrade.

“We welcomed 18 new firefighting recruits this week which will further improve our current high standards of performance when they hit the front line in June,” he said.

The report uses emergency incidents attended by the ACT Ambulance Service, ACT Fire & Rescue, ACT Rural Fire Service and the ACT State Emergency Services for the period commencing 1 July 2016 and concluding on 30 June 2017.

What has your experience been like with our emergency services? Share them with us in the comments section below.

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