More emergency call takers and dispatchers have started work in South Australia in a move to ease pressure on the state’s ambulance service.
The government has employed 18 call takers and 10 additional dispatchers after a 14 per cent increase in triple zero calls this winter to an average of 800 a day.
The extra staff will ensure those calls are more appropriately assessed with ambulances dispatched quickly to the most urgent cases.
“We know our ambos are under the pump taking more emergency calls and we want to give them the resources they need to deal with increased demand,” Health Minister Chris Picton said.
“This latest recruitment drive means a record number of highly trained staff are now working in the Emergency Operations Centre to help South Australians get care when they need it most.
“The call takers and dispatchers starting today will play a key role in improving response times and managing workloads across the board.”
Emergency call takers answer emergency calls, providing instructions on how best to manage a patient during periods of high stress, as well as organise non-urgent bookings for ambulance attendance.
Emergency dispatchers help triage calls and dispatch an ambulance if required.
Both roles are vital in providing pre-arrival advice to callers, managing ambulance resources and coordinating patient movements in the community.
South Australian Ambulance Service Chief Executive Rob Elliott said the additional call takers and dispatchers would help support the existing workforce and increase the service’s responsiveness to medical emergencies.
Emergency response times has been an issue in SA in recent months, amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases and the usual increased winter demand.
Demand on hospital emergency departments has also resulted in high levels of ambulance ramping, further increasing the pressure on the ambulance service.