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Review of Victoria's emergency ambulance call answer performance

COVID-19 pandemic-related 000 demand surge
Public health Emergency services Ambulance service Victoria

Victorians are accustomed to being able to rely on the emergency (triple zero) call service for help from police, fire and ambulance in life-threatening situations. They are used to calling triple zero and being rapidly connected to the most appropriate emergency service in seconds.

ESTA – the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority – provides Victoria’s triple zero call-taking and dispatch services. This includes emergency ambulance calls.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic challenged all aspects of society, including placing all parts of Victoria’s health system under strain. ESTA faced challenges in managing record-breaking volumes of emergency calls, particularly for ambulance events. 

In late 2021 the level of calls grew to a point where ESTA was taking longer than the five second target time to answer most emergency calls – at times more than 10 minutes – damaging the public’s confidence in the system, and placing the community at risk.

This report examines and assesses both ESTA’s and the broader emergency management sector’s planning and preparedness for a major surge in emergency ambulance calls due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The review also examines how the sector responded to the surge in emergency ambulance calls, the effectiveness of its response, and collaborative efforts to address the challenges.

Editor's note

The Victorian government's response to the issues raised by this review is also available for download.

Related Information

ESTA capability and service review: final report

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