Victoria’s triple zero emergency call system failed badly in response to the COVID surge in late 2021, not because it was unexpected, but because its funding model didn’t let it answer.
The State Inspector General for Emergency Management’s review of Victoria’s emergency ambulance call response performance was released by Government Andrews on Saturday morning. Damon Johnson at The Australian was absolutely right to call the timing of the exit cowardly, heartless and shameful. The ‘trash’ removed during a sneaky weekend outing involved 33 lives.
The review found that between October 2021 and March 2022, the performance of Victoria’s Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) deteriorated significantly: most 000 calls were not answered within five seconds – its standard benchmark – and often took 10 minutes to respond. In one case, it took 76 minutes to answer a call. The result: “There were 40 events involving critically ill and injured patients, many of whom were subject to call response delays. Tragically, 33 people did not survive these emergencies.”
Some of them may have died regardless of the delay. Others would have survived; the final number of deaths will be the coroner’s business.