CENTRAL Victorian towns are being left at risk as paramedic shortages see crews drawn in to Bendigo overnight, unions have warned.
Meanwhile Bendigo paramedics periodically work alone on night shifts, representatives say.
Both the Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria and the Victorian Ambulance Union warned that the situation was putting patients and paramedics at risk.
But Ambulance Victoria insisted rostering crews solo was standard practice, saying it was confident staffing met the needs in Greater Bendigo.
AEAV secretary Brett Adie has called for an extra rostered crew on in Bendigo all the time.
He warned the service was frequently using surge capacity, drawing crews from nearby towns and putting out emergency calls for staff.
Mr Adie said Bendigo ambulance stations relied on pulling crews from towns like Heathcote, Inglewood and Rochester.
Ambulance coverage in Rochester has been an ongoing issue, with a paramedic describing "immense stress" of working as a single responder.
Mr Adie said crews would come to Bendigo with a patient and end up doing jobs in the city, leaving towns uncovered for 10-14 hours.
This put towns as risk, because the closest crews were half an hour away, Mr Adie said.
He said Bendigo ran out of crews during the day a couple of times a week, forcing an emergency callout for staff.
Mr Adie said Ambulance Victoria was using surge capacity most nights of the year, to roster two extra paramedics on overtime.
He said every couple of days a paramedic would end up working alone in Bendigo, rather than paired with another paramedic.
Victorian Ambulance Union secretary Danny Hill warned shortages were putting stress on paramedics. He said there was a flow on risk to patients.
Mr Hill said crews regularly ran as single officer crews in Bendigo, where they should be double.
He called for more paramedics in the city, saying the caseload justified it.
"Bendigo is a ... major regional centre, with the sort of workload you see in metropolitan Melbourne," Mr Hill said.
Ambulance Victoria executive director of clinical operations Mick Stephenson said Ambulance Victoria routinely rostered paramedics on single response shifts across the state.
Associate Professor Stephenson said it was a "universal and effective model of care" ensuring paramedics could get to patients as quickly as possible.
He said Ambulance Victoria was confident its staffing levels met the needs of the Greater Bendigo community.
"On occasion, due to short notice personal leave, a dual paramedic crew may need to be converted to a single paramedic crew for all or part of a shift. The solo paramedic is always backed up by another crew at the time of dispatch," Associate Professor Stephenson said.
"To suggest that single crewing is sub-standard care is inaccurate. Anyone who needs an emergency ambulance will get one and will be transported to hospital if necessary."
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