The state’s ambulance network hit its highest possible emergency response level multiple times in the past fortnight, as overstretched paramedics struggle to keep up with extreme demand.
Overcrowded emergency departments, a significant increase in triple zero calls, staff shortages and rising COVID cases have pushed the NSW ambulance network to “status three” mode - its most severe level - four times in two weeks.
Managers and executives are pulled off duties to respond to surging demand when the network reaches this crisis level which, before last year, had occurred only once in the service’s history. NSW Ambulance on Friday night confirmed it was now reviewing the circumstances surrounding two deaths in March.
“Status three means the service is technically overwhelmed,” said one NSW Ambulance manager, who cannot be named because he is not authorised to speak publicly. “Paramedics are struggling to get to some of the most life-threatening calls in time.” “Under status three it is all hands on deck. Managers leave desks and get out on roads, all operational paramedics are needed.”
A NSW Ambulance spokesperson said March was “another challenging” month for the service with 27,000 more triple-zero calls in March compared to February.