AN EXPERIENCED paramedic says Bendigo needs at least one more 24-hour ambulance crew.
Brett Adie said under-resourcing of Bendigo's ambulance system was putting local paramedics under huge strain and there had been an increase in the number of times additional staff were urgently recalled to work shifts where there were not enough paramedics on duty to meet demand.
The problem with the recall system is it's normally about an hour before they're available to get on a truck ...
"It really only happened sparingly for a number of years and it was only in extreme circumstances that we required a recall crew," he said.
"The problem with the recall system is it's normally about an hour before they're available to get on a truck and get on the road, so anybody can be waiting up to an hour for that ambulance or people are being told find their own way to hospital.
"It causes fatigue to paramedics, who are then working extra hours to try and help out in their local area. It's very costly and it's inefficient in that it takes an hour for you to get that crew out on the road."
During March, on 21 occasions in 18 days paramedics were recalled to cover a lack of paramedics on duty able to respond to demand.
Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan and Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said the statistics showed the system was under pressure.
"Victorian Premier Denis Napthine cannot simply ignore the impact his under-resourcing is having on sick people and paramedics alike,” Ms Allan said.
Ambulance Victoria regional manager Kevin Masci said recalling off-duty paramedics was a long-standing and normal part of business to meet peak demand for ambulance services in rural areas.
"At times, off-duty paramedics are recalled to duty to maintain community ambulance coverage or replace short-term vacancies that arise, such as through sick leave.
“We continuously monitor the impacts of our resource management, including recall, as part of our service planning ..."
Health Minister David Davis said paramedics working in the Loddon Mallee Region had increased by 20 per cent in the past three years.
Mr Davis said the Coalition Government had already exceeded its commitment to roll out an extra 310 paramedics and 30 patient transport officers across the state.
"There are now 465 additional paramedics on the road compared to when Labor was in office," he said.