A new Andrews Labor Government campaign is urging all Victorians to save 000 calls for emergencies so paramedics can respond quicker and save more lives.

Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy today launched the new advertising campaign, which aims to reduce the number of non-emergency calls made for an emergency ambulance.

The campaign features the story of Will whose life was saved by local and Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) paramedics. They had the equipment and training needed to make him stable enough for the Air Ambulance flight to hospital emergency.

Will’s life was saved because a MICA paramedic was available and not tied up with non-emergency calls. Each year, tens of thousands of calls to 000 do not need an emergency ambulance, and the problem is growing.

In 2015/16, calls for ambulance grew by 5.7 per cent, while the population of Victoria grew at a rate of just 1.7 per cent. While some of this growth is associated with genuine need, many of the 000 calls were not emergencies.

We need to educate the community about when is the right time to call an emergency ambulance, and when health issues can be better managed by other parts of the health system such as GPs, pharmacies and nurse-on-call.

When an ambulance responds to a non-emergency case, it takes paramedics away from life-threatening emergencies, and can result in poorer patient outcomes and survival. It is also frustrating for our highly-skilled paramedics. Ambulances should only be called for time critical, life-threatening emergencies.

The campaign is part of the Labor Government’s work to rebuild our ambulance system after four years of crisis and neglect under the Liberals, and was a key recommendation of the Ambulance Performance and Policy Consultative Committee.

We recently announced a $500 million package to improve ambulance response times – the biggest ever investment in ambulance services in Victoria – by recruiting 450 additional paramedics, establishing six new super response centres, building 15 new and upgraded stations and creating new services in regional communities.

This record boost comes on top of the $144 million provided in the Victorian Budget 2016/17.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy

“When an ambulance is called to a non-emergency – it puts the lives of people in a time-critical, life threatening emergency at risk.”

“We’re urging all Victorians to save 000 for real emergencies. Too often paramedics get tied up with minor everyday health issues that can be better treated elsewhere.”

“With more paramedics on the road – and now our new campaign – ambulances will be able to respond more quickly. Families can have confidence that in an emergency, they will get the care they need, when they need it.”