THREE of the 48 new paramedics who started their induction training yesterday will be deployed in central Victoria under a state government plan to improve ambulance response times.
The three paramedics include two ambulance community officers – first responders employed on a casual basis to provide advanced first aid in communities with a low caseload – who will become fully qualified paramedics.
They will be based at Castlemaine, Kyneton and Woodend.
An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said the locations were determined “based on a range of factors including where paramedics can be effectively trained, exposed to a range of experiences and matched with the area of greatest need”.
A performance report from July to September last year showed 54 per cent of the most urgent cases in Mount Alexander Shire, which includes Castlemaine, were responded to within 15 minutes, with an average response time of 18 minutes and 16 seconds.
In the Macedon Ranges, this figure was 59 per cent and an average time of 14 minutes and 48 seconds.
For Ambulance Victoria as a whole the proportion was 77 per cent, but the statewide target was 85 per cent.
The 48 paramedics are the first cohort of 450 additional paramedics the government has promised to recruit over the next two and a half years as part of a $500 million package aimed at improving the ambulance system.
Three of the 48 are ambulance community officers.
The new paramedics will be out and ready to respond to emergencies from February 13.
Under the government’s improvement plan, there will also be six new “super response” centres, 15 new or upgraded stations, and 12 new rural services.
Pyramid Hill, Lockington and Dingee will be serviced by one of these rural services, which will be staffed by a paramedic community support co-ordinator who will both provide emergency response and work with other health services.
Tongala, Stanhope, Nagambie and Moira West will also share a new rural service.
Loddon Shire had just 39 per cent of its most urgent cases responded to within 15 minutes between July and September last year, while in Campaspe Shire this figure sat at 65 per cent.