Emergency hotline staff stagnant under Daniel Andrews

Victorian lives have been placed at risk by the Andrews Labor Government’s failure to meaningfully increase critical triple-0 call staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) CEO Marty Smyth has confirmed that despite 18 months of COVID-19, critical ambulance call taking staff have increased by less than 0.5 per cent.

Under normal circumstances, year on year triple-0 calls for ambulances increase by approximately 6 per cent. This is an appalling oversight and a horrific failure to prepare for an increase that everybody knew was coming. Everybody except, it seems, Daniel Andrews and his Labor Government. During question time in the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes refused to acknowledge the Andrews Labor Government had failed to resource ESTA appropriately. Ms Symes refused to expand the terms of reference of Graham Ashton’s review to include ESTA’s preparedness level, and also said information from the ESTA CEO that ADF staff would be coming in to take ambulance calls was not correct.

In the last few weeks, two people suffering cardiac arrest died after calls to triple-0 went unanswered for five minutes, and emergency calls in other life-threatening situations had been left on hold for 33 minutes.

This further failure from the Andrews Labor Government is seriously impacting the lives of Victorians, and Daniel Andrews needs to get his head out of the sand and explain why the government failed so badly – again.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Brad Battin:

“A call to triple-0 must never be a coin toss between getting a response or being placed on hold.

“Daniel Andrews has known this situation would be coming for 18 months. How can we not be ready?

“Labor’s inaction is costing lives and Victoria’s emergency hotline needs immediate support and additional resourcing.”