A former Victorian police commissioner has been tasked with reviewing the state's emergency call system following several deaths.
Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes on Friday announced Graham Ashton has been appointed to lead the independent review of the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority.
Mr Ashton will review ESTA's current functions and will make recommendations to the government on how to improve its capabilities by early next year.
ESTA provides Victoria's 24-hour emergency call-taking and dispatch services for ambulance, fire, police and the Victoria State Emergency Service.
In 2020/21, the authority answered more than 2.8 million calls, or one call every 11 seconds. More than 1.9 million calls came via triple zero.
Last week, ESTA chief executive Marty Smyth said demand for triple zero ambulance calls had increased by about a third during the pandemic.
"We are regularly seeing unprecedented numbers of calls now. Levels, which before COVID-19 were seen only on busy weekends, are now almost a daily occurrence," he said at the time.
Mr Smyth said the average wait time is currently one to two minutes, well above the authority's target of five seconds for ambulance calls.
About a third of calls do not require emergency assistance, but this is not known until the caller receives triage over the phone.
There have been several deaths in recent weeks, including a toddler who died after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Her family waited on hold to triple zero for one minute and 41 seconds. It is not yet known whether the delay contributed to her death.
Two other Victorians who suffered cardiac arrest died after triple zero calls went unanswered for five minutes in each case, the Herald Sun reported on Friday.
In April, Melbourne woman Christina Lackmann died while waiting six hours for an ambulance.
The 32-year-old called triple zero for an ambulance because she was feeling dizzy while cooking dinner and the operator promised to return her call but was unable to reach her.
She was found lying dead on her bathroom floor, with her dinner still in the microwave.
"Our hardworking emergency call takers have done their absolute best throughout unprecedented demand from the pandemic - but we want to see where things can be improved," Ms Symes said in a statement.
"Mr Ashton has expert knowledge of how our emergency services should operate, and I look forward to seeing his recommendations on how we can continue to support our emergency services agencies to keep Victorians safe."
Ambulance Victoria has also confirmed it will be introducing new measures from next week as it braces for a growing wave of COVID-19 patients.
To improve response times, two paramedics will no longer be deployed in each ambulance - a first for Ambulance Victoria.
A single paramedic may instead be joined by a driver from the Australian Defence Force, St John Ambulance Australia, the State Emergency Service or student paramedics.
An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said the service had four of its five busiest days in history in the last two weeks.
Opposition spokesman for Emergency Services Brad Battin said the government had failed to prepare for the increase in COVID-19 cases in Victoria.
"A failure to plan is a plan to fail, and due to the Andrews Labor Government's failure to prepare Triple-0, people are dying," he said in a statement.
"We don't need an investigation at this time, Victorians need a guarantee their calls will be answered when they need emergency assistance."
Australian Associated Press