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NSW Ambulance service in crisis as they face unprecedented demand

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The NSW Ambulance service have had to declare the network in ‘status three’ mode four times in the past two weeks.  Status three mode is the most severe level where the demand out does the networks ability to respond to calls.

When a status three emergency is called, all managers and executives are pulled off duties to help respond to surging demand, prior to this fortnight it had only ever occurred once in the service’s history.

An NSW Ambulance Manager spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald, he cannot be named as he is not authorised to speak publicly. The manager said, “Paramedics are struggling to get to some of the most life-threatening calls in time.”

“Under status three it is all hands-on deck. Managers leave desks and get out on roads; all operational paramedics are needed.”

In March the NSW Ambulance service say an additional 27,000 triple zero calls occurred compared to February.

In the last quarter of 2021, there were over 347,000 calls to NSW Ambulance, the second highest call volume for any quarter in the past decade according to data published by the Bureau of Health Information.

The data shows that wait times blew out with about 40 per cent of ambulances failing to reach “Priority 1A” cases (life-threatening incidents such as acute heart attacks) within the 10-minute benchmark.

The Sydney Morning Herald has claimed that they have seen emails that showed that ambulances were unable to offload patients at some of Sydney’s largest hospitals for hours on Monday night. Concord Hospital was the worst performing with ambulances waiting up to three hours whilst Royal Prince Alfred and Prince of Wales having up to two hour wait times for ambulances to off load their patients.

St Vincent, St George and Sutherland Hospitals also had wait times of over an hour. This situation puts more strain on the already overwhelmed ambulance service as the ambulances are out of action whilst they look after their patient, unable to return to service until they have handed over the patient to the hospital.

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