AMBULANCE performance in Indigo Shire has again been the worst in Victoria, prompting mayor Jenny O'Connor to call for an urgent increase in resourcing.
A unit arrived at a "Code One" call-out within the target timeframe of 15 minutes just 28.4 per cent of the time during the October to December quarter last year.
On average it took 22 minutes for an ambulance to respond.
"These results are very disappointing," Cr O'Connor said.
"We understand we can't have the same level of response as one would expect in a metropolitan city, but the gap is too great between what most of Victoria expects and receives, and what the Indigo Shire is receiving.
"Even for comparable small rural shires, they have percentages of 50 and 60. It needs to be addressed immediately; it's a critical issue for our community."
Cr O'Connor said no promises had come out of a meeting with Ambulance Victoria in December.
"They were very aware of our concerns after that meeting, and we're looking to have further discussions with Health Minister Jenny Mikakos," she said.
"We want to work constructively with Ambulance Victoria and with the Minister around appropriate resourcing and funding - for more qualified paramedics, vehicles and ambulance stations.
"We are always relying on ambulances coming in from NSW in the western part of the shire, and sharing resources is fine, if we have the appropriate amount of services."
Ambulance Victoria's Hume regional director Matt Chadban said in a statement that while response times were an important measure, "it's what paramedics do when they reach a patient that really counts".
"It's also important not to underestimate the invaluable role played by our highly-skilled volunteers in communities such as Indigo," he said.
Great discussions with our @AmbulanceVic Corryong team yesterday. Their response to the NE fires was exceptional and important to hear directly how we can continue to support them now and in the weeks, months and years ahead #everydayheroes#BetterTogetherpic.twitter.com/YaEsK6pG9K— Tony Walker (@agwalker01) February 8, 2020
"Our Ambulance Community Officers and Community Emergency Response teams provide crucial lifesaving treatment in the early minutes while paramedics are on their way.
"It is a model of care that is proven and successful based on workload and demand, and operates in a number of branches in rural or remote parts of Victoria."
Cr O'Connor said the expectation in a Code One emergency was that a paramedic would respond.
"Ambulance Victoria itself has that as its standard," she said.
"I want to make it clear I'm not criticising the volunteers; this is a resourcing issue for the state government and Ambulance Victoria."
The quarter two data was a 10 per cent drop from 38.5 per cent in quarter one.
Other local government areas with consistently low results include Buloke, Loddon, West Wimmera, and in the North East, Towong.
Indigo's quarter two data was lower than neighbouring shires of Alpine (50.7 per cent making 15 minutes) and Wodonga (87.1 per cent).
Mr Chadban said the latest quarterly performance data showed paramedics in the Hume region "responded to 4300 emergency cases in October, November and December 2019 - 332 more cases than the same period in 2018".
"Despite the significant 8.4 per cent increase in demand, the more complex patients and call-outs we are seeing, our paramedics continue to deliver best care," he said.
"We're also continuing to invest in a range of locally based initiatives for Hume residents, including installing more automated external defibrillators ... and use of the GoodSAM app, that will improve survival rates for the most critically-ill patients.
"We thank the Hume community for their support as we go about caring for local residents."
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos met with then-mayor Bernard Gaffney to discuss the issue in August.