This is the full statement from Garry Cook, Ambulance Victoria Hume Regional Manager, in response to Wodonga having just one paramedic on Saturday night:
“WE make every effort to ensure paramedics are rostered to each shift. Just like anyone else in the community, paramedics are human and they get sick from time to time. We see similar peaks and flows to these leave days as many other businesses do and on Saturday we saw an inordinate number of unplanned leave in the area.
“We actively explored all options to fill those vacancies including offering overtime to paramedics, however if no one volunteers for that overtime shift, then those shifts are usually unable to be filled. To ensure coverage, we called in our highly trained volunteer Ambulance Community Officers to work with our paramedics.
“To put this in perspective, just over one per cent of shifts are unable to be filled. Ambulance Victoria fills more than 240,000 shifts every year across Victoria and almost 99 per cent of those shifts operate as scheduled.
“When we identify any unfilled shifts, we move our ambulances around from one branch to another to ensure coverage in those areas. We moved a single responder MICA unit from Wangaratta to Wodonga and we also had another MICA resource on call throughout the night. If there had been a demand for it, we could have also moved another ambulance into the area to support the overnight crew.
“Ambulance Victoria now has a sophisticated system which allows us to move ambulances around and ensure they are best placed to be at the right place and respond to immediately life threatening emergencies 24 hours a day.
“We use the information generated through our new call-taking centre which allows us to better map demand for ambulances by time of day and place and move them around to get the best response for patients. This provides the best coverage for the Victorian community and has resulted in Ambulance Victoria having the best rates of survival from sudden death collapses in Australia and within the best five per cent of ambulances services anywhere in the world.”