ACT to gain 12 new ambulances, more paramedics

ACT emergency services are set to expand their ambulance fleet, with 12 new vehicles being rolled out.

The $3 million expansion will see the new ambulances fitted with electric stretchers and more space in the back for paramedics.

ACT chief ambulance officer Howard Wren showing off the new ambulances. Photo: Karleen Minney

ACT chief ambulance officer Howard Wren showing off the new ambulances. Photo: Karleen Minney

The new electric stretchers will also be retrofitted to suit existing ambulances in the ACT fleet.

ACT Ambulance Service chief officer Howard Wren said the new vehicles would take the strain off ambulance workers.

"Over a period of time, if you're constantly manoeuvring the stretcher and pushing it, it takes a toll on paramedics' backs," Mr Wren said.

"The implementation of the new stretchers has a very beneficial effect on staff wellbeing."

Electric stretchers were first trialled in ACT ambulances in 2017, after the equipment was used in other jurisdictions.

Inside the new ambulances, which will feature electric stretchers. Photo: Karleen Minney

Inside the new ambulances, which will feature electric stretchers. Photo: Karleen Minney

The new ambulances will also come equipped with new ergonomic work spaces and smaller and lighter defibrillators for paramedics.

Mr Wren said ambulance staff had been calling for the new equipment for some time.

"We currently have the best response times [for ambulance call-outs] in the country, but there's always room for improvement," he said.

"We aim to further reduce the response time over the next few months."

The first of the new pieces of equipment for ACT ambulances will be rolled out from next month, with further resources to arrive throughout the rest of the year.

Mr Wren said all of the new equipment will be available to staff from May 2020 at the latest.

"This is not a quick process, and we have to provide training for staff as well," he said.

ACT paramedic Scott Lang checks out the new power stretcher feature. Photo: Karleen Minney

ACT paramedic Scott Lang checks out the new power stretcher feature. Photo: Karleen Minney

Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman said the roll out of the new ambulances would coincide with the recruitment of 30 new paramedics.

The new paramedics are expected to come on board as part of the expanded emergency service in the next 12 months.

"We're recruiting to help get them on the road as soon as possible," Mr Gentleman said.

"It's always a challenge across emergency services with staffing, and we want to ensure we have the amount of staff we need on the ground as the population grows."

It comes as new figures revealed the ACT's emergency service workers were paid more than $15 million in overtime and allowances during the 2017-18 financial year, despite significant increases in the number of paramedics.

Between 2016 and January this year, seven ambulances were added to the ACT's fleet.