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AUSTRALIA, it’s time to get real about who we’re becoming.
A new report from Ambulance Tasmania today has revealed some truly stunning details about the gross misuse of the service, proving a lot of us are becoming lazy, hypochondriacs and huge over-reactors.
The review, which was released in an effort to fix Tasmania’s rank as the state with the slowest emergency response time in the country, reveals the population are using the service for things most would see as the furthest thing from an emergency.
And while the review might’ve left a lot of Tasmanians out to dry, they definitely aren’t the only ones.
The review revealed Tasmanians, just like the rest of Australia, are inundating the emergency services with ridiculous calls.
Tasmania’s Health Minister Michael Ferguson highlighted some of the worst in a budget estimates hearing today, reports the ABC.
“We had a person call 000 because their dog was sick, and they wanted an ambulance to come and assess it,” Mr Ferguson said.
“One patient on Bruny Island realised they’d run out of medication on Christmas Eve, and the patient requested from the island that ambulance paramedics visit the pharmacy and collect their medications and put the ambulance on the ferry to deliver them.
“A person in Scottsdale called 000 wanting an ambulance because they had a blocked nose and a headache due to a cold.”
The publication also reported Ambulance Tasmania attended to someone “suffering a toothache”, another person who “had an itchy eye”, a Hobart man who thought he’d broken his ankle but had been walking on it for two days and only had a small bruise and even a person who “had stubbed their toe and wanted an ambulance so they could go to hospital for an X-Ray”.
In a statement to news.com.au, Chief Executive for Ambulance Tasmania Neil Kirby revealed almost one in five people who receive ambulance care don’t even need to go to hospital.
“One person called 000 due to a cut finger and they described it as bleeding uncontrollably. When paramedics arrived the only treatement required was for a Band-Aid to be applied,” he said.
But they definitely aren’t the only ones with plenty more stories revealing the rest of Australia is guilty of similar unnecessary calls.
Tasmania was dubbed the slowest responding state in Australia last year after it was revealed you’ll wait on average 26 minutes for an ambulance to come to you after calling 000.
But, when you take into account the fact that the demand for ambulances is 14 times greater than the state’s population growth, it’s easy to understand why.
In the 2015/16 financial year, Tasmanian ambulances were called out to 90,000 separate incidents — that’s 247 incidents a day split among 53 separate stations and 300 fulltime workers.
If you think that sounds like a lot, then you’re absolutely right.
The small island state is home to 515,000 people which means close to one in five people were visited by an ambulance.
And clearly, not all of them are calling for life-threatening emergencies.
BUT WHY CAN’T THEY JUST FILTER THE CALLS?
Most people who aren’t directly involved with the emergency services often wonder why those receiving the emergency calls aren’t sorting these “trivial call-outs” themselves.
If someone calls them saying they have a cut on their finger, why can’t they tell them to put a Band-Aid on?
If someone rings asking about the health of their pet, can’t they refer them to a local vet instead?
But, it isn’t always that simple news.com.au has learned.
“At the end of the day you never know. Some people rant when they’re panicked and don’t think clearly or struggle to articulate what they’re saying,” an emergency services professional said.
And that’s often the case with most of the non-life threatening call outs with the emergency services only realising the ridiculous nature of the call by the time they get there.
Penalties for calling 000 when there isn’t actually an emergency can be quite severe with some states even offering up three years in prison if you do.
Despite that threat, it seems like people really aren’t heeding the penalties with calls to the emergency services only increasing each year.
The only small victory — if these people do force paramedics to come all that way out for things as trivial as an itchy eye or an ingrown toenail, they’ll still be bumped right down to the bottom of the hospital queue when they arrive in their siren-blaring chariot.