LETTER OF THE DAY: Ambulance staff meeting challenge

I REGULARLY see articles and reports about ambulances on hospital ramps and continue to be surprised by the hype and lack of understanding from various sectors on how the ambulance service works.

I'd like to make one point very clear - there will always be ambulances on the ramps outside of hospitals. That is where we take our patients. Furthermore, the image of ambulances at hospitals shouldn't invoke thoughts of negativity or necessitate scaremongering for the purpose of an industrial agenda.

The issue we face is not how many vehicles are there, but how quickly we can unload our patients to ensure our highly trained frontline paramedics are available to respond to the next emergency.

If we take a minute and look at the data from the last quarterly period of 2011/12 prior to the adoption of the Metropolitan Emergency Department Access Initiative (MEDAI) recommendations, which was conducted by respected Emergency physician Doctor David Rosengren, and compare this to our performance for the same period in 2013/14, we have seen significant improvements which are second to none.

This remarkable improvement across the state clearly demonstrates the impressive work of all of our frontline staff including paramedics, communications staff, supervisors and managers.

For example, there has been a significant reduction in the amount of time lost waiting on ramps which is equivalent to getting 229 days of paramedic "available to respond" time back.

QAS response times have also improved from 16.6 mins in the last quarter of 2011/12 to 16.3 minutes for the same period in 2013/14 despite escalating demand.

Our frontline communication staff answered over 643,000 triple-zero calls in FY 2013/14 and ambulance officers responded to more than one million cases in the same period with performance standards that will be challenging to replicate into the future.

In saying this, no matter how far we have come I understand that there are still hot spots where this does not happen as quickly as we would like, but I can assure you all that the QAS and your local hospital and health services are working tirelessly to resolve these issues.

I am however certain, that our staff are up to the challenge as we continue to roll out life-saving initiatives across the state.

RUSSELL BOWLES, Commissioner Queensland Ambulance Service

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