| 29.10,11. 02:14 PM |
Stop wasting our time, say ambos
October 29, 2011
HOAXERS and hypochondriacs are costing Victoria's ambulance service millions of dollars a year in wasted trips.
The state's ambulance chief has told the Herald Sun that thousands of unnecessary calls put genuine emergency victims at risk of critical delays
Examples of some of the bizarre recent calls for ambulances have been a mother with her finger caught in the lid of a wipes container, a man with itchy mosquito bites and a drunken man wanting help to find his glasses.
Ambulance Victoria chief executive officer Greg Sassella said the cases sounded laughable, but were a serious problem for the already stretched service.
"If you think you need an ambulance, call 000 and if you need one, we'll send one," he said.
"But if your problem is simply that you've had an itchy tongue for three days, stop and ask yourself, 'is there a better option?'.
"Whenever an ambulance is dispatched to these cases, it needlessly ties up paramedics and potentially delays our response to real-life emergencies, such as cardiac arrest."
Mr Sassella said he did not want to see anyone not call an ambulance when they needed one, but there were better alternatives for minor injuries and ailments.
"There is this myth that if you go to hospital by ambulance you will get treated faster - I can assure you that it doesn't work that way and all that results is paramedics having to wait at emergency departments," he said.
AV also uses significant resources weeding out callers who do not need ambulance treatment.
Its call-referral service, which organises alternatives such as a locum doctor or district nurse, steered 31,781 cases away from an ambulance last year.
Hoax callers also remain a significant time-waster for the service. There were 1374 hoax calls last year.
Patients were not found or had absconded in another 1885 cases.
The extra demand has emerged after revelations that paramedics were so short last Sunday night that they were told to dump patients in a hospital waiting room with a blanket, pillow and medical records and get back on the road.
They were instructed to leave because there were 47 cases waiting with only one ambulance available.