Rochester now a two-ambo town

By Anna McGuinness

There is a new paramedic in town after Rochester’s ambulance received an upgrade to a dual paramedic crew.

It was the first of 15 single crew stations in regional Victoria to be upgraded as a part of a $109 million package.

As well as recruiting more paramedics, the investment includes upgrades to equipment and buildings to support locations running the upgraded dual paramedic crews.

Ben Battenally joined existing crew member Matthew O’Brien for his first shift as a part of the Rochester station last Thursday.

“This dual crew upgrade means local paramedics are better supported and will arrive at emergencies knowing that a partner has their back,” Ambulance Services Minister Jenny Mikakos said.

“Every second counts when your loved one is sick or injured. That’s why we’re putting more paramedics on the ground in Rochester and building the facilities they need to do their job, which is saving lives.

“We’re investing in our paramedics and ambulance stations to bring life-saving care to Victorians faster, when they need it most.”

The two paramedics are joined by David Harris, an ambulance community officer who can transport lower-acuity patients to hospital, back up paramedics responding to critical emergencies and assist when they are unavailable.

“Importantly, our paramedics will continue to be supported by our ambulance community officers, who are a critical part of our emergency response in rural and regional Victoria,” Loddon Mallee regional director Michael Georgiou said.

“ACOs are highly skilled volunteers who are qualified in advanced first aid and are often first on scene to provide lifesaving support at emergencies in rural locations.”

Michael said it was important Ambulance Victoria meeted the increase in demand as communities like Rochester grow.

“Dual crewing helps us meet those needs by giving the community greater access to highly skilled paramedics,” he said.

Along with Rochester, single paramedic crews in Avoca, Inglewood, Charlton, Beaufort, St Arnaud, Foster, Yarram, Camperdown, Terang, Murchison and Rupanyup will also be upgraded.

The government has invested $1 billion to deliver more paramedics, more vehicles and more stations, including a $299 million boost in the 2019/20 Victorian budget.

Latest data shows Victoria’s ambulances transported a massive 78,820 code one emergency patients in the three months to the end of December — 4,513 more than a year earlier.

Paramedics reached 82.5 per cent of code one cases across the state within the benchmark 15 minutes, with an average response time of 11 minutes and 29 seconds. That is nearly two minutes faster than the same period in 2014, when just 74.1 per cent of ambulances arrived within 15 minutes.