Heated debate as calls increase

NEWS: Paramedics tell of ambulance service 'meltdown' in heatwave

AMBULANCE Victoria's Bendigo station manager has defended the handling of last-week's spike in cases, dismissing claims the system was in "meltdown".

Loddon Mallee manager Kevin Masci said the Bendigo region saw a major jump in call-outs and workloads during the hot weather. But he said paramedics attended every case.

"We were stretched for periods of time and there were delays," he said.

"We'll follow those up and look at what happened.

"It wasn't an organisation in meltdown, it was an organisation doing what it was supposed to do. It certainly wasn't in crisis."

Bagshot MICA paramedic Anna Sutton said last Thursday was the busiest day in her career, and said there were not enough paramedics to keep up with demand. She said patients had been left to "slip through the cracks".

"I remember thinking I have never heard it this desperate," she said.

Mr Masci said Bendigo was largely spared the worst of the high demand that stretched paramedics across the state.

"We were at full capacity," he said.

"Plus we had extra late shifts on the Thursday night and an extra shift on Friday."

A group of 12 Bendigo paramedics joined a rally at Ambulance Victoria headquarters in Doncaster, putting the heat on management.

Bendigo paramedic Brett Adie said the ongoing industrial dispute has highlighted a lack of support from management. 

"They won't come to the table," he said.

"It's really frustrating. It was quite clear (on Wednesday) that everyone's pretty upset."

The state government's proposal includes an extra six per cent pay for paramedics this year, followed by rises of three per cent a year in 2015 and 2016.

Mr Adie said the government was spreading misinformation and propaganda about the offer, and were "pulling the wool over the eyes of the public".

He said he expected the negotiations to drag out, possibly beyond the November state election.

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