ACT News

Report on Government Services: ACT ambulance service has fastest response times in Australia

The ACT continues to have the fastest ambulance response times in the country, responding to 90 per cent of critical cases within 12.5 minutes last financial year, despite more paramedics leaving the service and increasing demand.

Paramedics shaved off 0.4 minutes from the previous year's response times in 90 per cent of priority one incidents in 2014-15, the Productivity Commission's annual Report on Government Services reveals.

The ACT had the fastest ambulance response times in the country.
The ACT had the fastest ambulance response times in the country. Photo: Jamila Toderas.

In 50 per cent of cases ambulances responded within eight minutes, the quickest of any capital city in the country.

In the same period the total operational workforce decreased by 10 to 180 full time equivalent staff causing the staff attrition level to rise to 2.8 per cent from 1.7 per cent in 2013-14 when it was at a five-year low.

But staff attrition remained below the national average of 3.6 per cent.

Of all jurisdictions, the ACT had the second lowest number of full time equivalent paramedics per 100,000 people at just 36, down on 40.7 in the previous year.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Simon Corbell said the ambulance service had improved its response times for the seventh straight year, while coping with a continued increase in demand.

In the past four years, demand for ambulance services in the ACT had risen by almost a third from 35,868 responses in 2010-2011 to 46,442 in 2014-2015.

Paramedics responded to 119.8 cases for every 1000 residents in 2014-15, up on the previous year when there were 112.5 responses.

Mr Corbell said he was unconcerned by the rising staff attrition, with only five staff members departing in 2014-15, up from two the previous year.

"We look very closely at staff attrition rates but that is not a high staff attrition rate for what can be a very demanding and stressful career path," he said.

"The community should have the highest confidence in the performance of their ambulance service."

Satisfaction levels for the territory's ambulance service remained at 98 per cent, only NSW had a higher rate at 99 per cent.

Emergency staff answered 95.8 per cent of triple-0 calls within 10 seconds, slightly below last year's rate of 96 per cent – the second best in Australia.

The ACT Fire and Rescue service's response times became slightly slower in 2014-15, with crews arriving at 90 per cent of structural fires within 11 minutes, but they remained the second fastest capital city.

Mr Corbell said an overhaul of the ACT's Emergency Services Agency was "proceeding well" and would bring about further efficiencies and improved performance to meet growing demand.

The ACT had the lowest rate of fire incidents of all jurisdictions in 2014-15 at just 220 per 100,000 people, compared to an Australian average of 413.

Only the Northern Territory had more firefighters per 100,000 people at 115.9 full time equivalent personnel per 100,000 compared to the ACT's 90.5, above the Australian average of 60.5.

ACT firefighters managed to contain fires to the room where they started in 73.4 per cent of cases in 2014-15, down on 80.3 per cent in 2013-14.

Of the 10,313 incidents firefighters attended, 5731 were due to system-initiated false alarms and 48 were the result of malicious false calls.

Mr Corbell said the ACT government had committed an extra $32.6 million for frontline emergency services in the 2015/16 budget including $15.6 million over four years for the ESA.