AMBULANCE Victoria (AV) will recruit hundreds of paramedics and establish a new medium acuity transport service to meet record demand.

Paramedics attended 84,441 time-critical cases between April and June 2021, the highest demand on record for this time of year, and the second highest quarterly result in Victoria’s history.

AV aims to respond to Code 1 incidents within 15 minutes for 85 per cent of incidents state-wide, and 90 per cent for populations greater than 7500.

In Wonthaggi, demand for emergency care increased by 40 per cent compared to the same time last year, with paramedics called to 200 Code 1 cases.

Of these, 82.5 per cent were reached within 15 minutes.

While in South Gippsland, paramedics were called to 431 Code 1 cases, with 44.5 per cent responded to within 15 minutes, with an average of 18.55 minutes.

However, there were 357 Code 1 cases for the same time last year, with 45.1 per cent responded to within 15 minutes.

Gippsland acting regional director Rachelle Pellow said the entire healthcare system was continuing to feel the impacts of COVID-19.

“Here in Gippsland, we are dealing with an extraordinary workload, which is also being experienced by crews right across the state,” Ms Pellow said.

“This is leading to congestion at hospitals, where lengthening transfer times at emergency departments are impacting on our crews being available to respond to the next person in need.”

Ms Pellow said several factors were contributing to the enormous demand, including underlying medical issues which were left untreated during the peak of the pandemic.

State-wide, paramedics attended 73.1 per cent of Code 1 cases within 15 minutes, with an average response time of 13 minutes and 44 seconds.

Along with the huge increase in time-critical cases, more than 37,000 calls to Triple Zero last quarter did not require an emergency response.

A further 20,000 patients who received an ambulance did not require transport to hospital.

More than 300 paramedics and registered nurses will join AV in the next 12 months. 

Secondary triage and telehealth mental health services, which both free up ambulances for emergencies, will also be expanded as part of a $759 million state government investment.