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ACT ambulance response times are best in Australia: report

Ambulance response times in the capital are the fastest they've been in five years, with half of the most critical cases responded to within eight minutes, the Productivity Commission has found. 

The annual Report on Government Services, which was released today, also showed the ACT Ambulance Service responded to 90 per cent of priority one incidents within 13 minutes in the last financial year, which was four minutes faster than 2008-09.

The eight-minute response time for 50 per cent of critical incidents was a two-minute improvement on that same year and was also the quickest of any capital city in the country.

The ACT Ambulance Service was prompted to improve its emergency management strategies after a sweeping review showed skyrocketing demand had put pressure on workers and slowed response times by 2009.

An Auditor-General's report found lives were being put at risk by worsening ambulance response times, which failed to meet government targets. 

It showed demand climbed 68 per cent in the eight years to 2008, while ambulance response times had repeatedly declined in the four years before the report was released.


Acting Emergency Services Minister Shane Rattenbury said the commission's report highlighted a range of strategies ACTAS had put in place, following recommendations from an independent review, to manage increased demand and improve response times in recent years. 

They included boosting frontline emergency crew levels during peak periods, upgrades to ambulance stations, changes to the way triple-0 calls were triaged and improved protocols for offloading patients to emergency wards.

The report indicated emergency crew reforms also had a positive impact on staff attrition levels, which at less than 2 per cent were the lowest in five years and below the national rate of 3.6 per cent in 2013-14.

Overall satisfaction levels for the territory's ambulance service sat at 98 per cent, which was on par with all other jurisdictions. 

Emergency staff fielding triple-0 phone calls answered 96 per cent of calls within 10 seconds, which was the second highest proportion in Australia.

Ambulance crews attended 43,445 incidents in 2013-14, up from 41,346 the previous year. 

The ACT's emergency services crews, which include paramedics, firefighters and the State Emergency Service, provided more than 54,000 responses to incidents during the last financial year.  

The report showed ACT Fire and Rescue crews improved their response times to structural blazes and arrived at the fires within 10.4 minutes, which was the second fastest time of any major capital city.

Territory firefighters also managed to contain fires to the room where they started in 80.3 per cent of cases in 2013-14, which was up from 65.8 per cent of blazes the previous year.

They attended 228 incidents for every 100,000 residents in 2013-14, down from 265 incidents the year before. 

Of the 10,511 incidents firefighters went to, 5,119 were due to system-initiated false alarms and 50 were the result of malicious false calls. 

Mr Rattenbury welcomed the commission's findings and said they showed the ACT's emergency services continued to maintain "high standards of performance". 

"Once again the ACT Ambulance Service and ACT Fire and Rescue have continued to provide excellent service to the territory."