AMBULANCE response times for both Code 1 and Code 2 emergencies have improved in the last two years in most shires across the Loddon-Mallee region.
Ambulance Victoria data released on Thursday for October-December 2017 showed that, in the City of Greater Bendigo, ambulances were responding to Code 1 emergencies within 15 minutes 80 per cent of the time.
This was an increase from 75 per cent in mid-2016.
The average wait for an ambulance in Bendigo was 12 minutes 7 seconds for Code 1, and 25 minutes and 27 seconds for Code 2 – both improvements from several years ago.
Ambulance Victoria Loddon-Mallee regional director Kevin Masci said it was a pleasing result.
“For us it means that we’re getting to our patients quicker, and giving them the expert care that we can give them in a more timely fashion,” he said.
Bendigo lagged behind Ballarat however, where the average wait time for a Code 1 emergency was 10 minutes and 28 seconds. Geelong, Horsham, Warrnambool, Shepparton and Mildura also all out-performed Bendigo.
The opening of Wedderburn’s first Ambulance Victoria station in 2016 saw response times decrease quickly in Loddon Shire.
The community had lobbied for its own ambulance after relying on services from Charlton and Inglewood.
Loddon Shire still had one of the longest wait times for ambulances in Victoria, but the figure had decreased from an almost 26-minute wait for a Code 1 emergency at the end of 2016, to 21 minutes at the end of 2017.
Mr Masci said there were other ways that Ambulance Victoria was attempting to improve response times in Loddon Shire.
“Loddon Shire is a large area with a sparse population,” he said.
“One of the things we’re aiming to do in Loddon Shire is actually to assist the community in terms of looking after themselves in times of emergency.
“We have what we call a public access defibrillation database which, when someone rings up with a cardiac arrest, they’ll know where there is access to a defibrillator.”
Loddon also has access to a paramedic community support co-ordinator at Wedderburn and Boort, and two ambulance community officer teams.
“The whole idea is to work within the community, co-odrinate the community health services, so overall the community can have better healthcare,” Mr Masci said.
The ambulance response times were a win for the state government, which made improving times a priority in regional Victoria during the previous election campaign.
Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said they were the best results seen for nine years.
“Over 80 per cent of our ambulances are arriving now for Code 1 patients within just over a 12 minute period, and that is exceptionally good data compared to where we were,” she said.
“This is also good data when you think of the increasing number of people who are actually being treated, not just for ambulance services, but also our hospital data which indicates that an increasing number of people who are presenting at our Bendigo Hospital but who are also being treated in a shorter amount of time.”