Alcohol Fuelled Patients Clog up Ambulance Services

It appears the number of alcohol related call outs in Geelong has gotten out of control and is putting even more pressure on ambulances than any other region in Victoria, according to reports.

According to an article on the Geelong Advertiser website, a report released by Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre earlier this year revealed that over 200 call outs a month in regional Vic are as a result of alcohol abuse or misuse.

According to the report paramedics in greater Geelong attended almost 500 alcohol fuelled incidents in 2011-2012. Most of these cases are from self-inflicted injuries caused by alcohol as is actually risking the lives of other people in the area because it is diverting lifesaving resources away from the people that really need it.

The article had this to say about the report’s findings:

Greater Geelong paramedics attended 497 alcohol-related incidents in 2011-12, more than doubling the workload of areas such as La Trobe (190), Ballarat (178), Greater Shepparton (153) and Greater Bendigo (148).

The report, released by Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre in May this year, found ambulances attended more than 200 call-outs per month in regional Victoria due to alcohol abuse.

Ambulance union state secretary Steve McGhie said self-inflicted cases were diverting lifesaving resources away from patients with genuine health issues.

“Geelong should be concerned,” he said. “It’s something we have to address together.

“People get angry about illicit drugs and its toll on the community but alcohol abuse is much worse.”

The Surf Cost recorded 46 alcohol-related call-outs, Colac Otway 30, Golden Plains 10 and Queenscliff five.

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A spokesperson for the Minister for Mental Health, Mary Wooldridge said the situation is a major social problem, especially considering that it is likely to increase if it is not dealt with. In the past 10 years, the number of alcohol related ambulance attendances increased every year,

The government is committed to tackling this problem by reducing the impact of alcohol and drug abuse in the community – this is the only way to alleviate the problem of alcohol related attendances wasting valuable medical resources.

The article goes on to explain:

“The (whole-of-government strategy) plan includes initiatives to promote healthier attitudes to excessive drinking and drunk behaviour, as well as measures to effectively regulate alcohol supply with strengthened reforms to liquor licensing laws,” the spokesperson said.

Labor secretary for health Wade Noonan said the report showed paramedics were being sent into dangerous situations and that people were left “dangerously exposed”.

“The increase in alcohol and drug-related ambulance attendances is leading to some serious incidents involving our respected paramedics, including assaults,” he said.


As the spokesperson explained the huge alcohol related caseload is adding enormous pressure to the ambulance service which is already under stress. In fact the situation is so serious that one in four ambulances already failed to response to life-threatening emergencies within 15 minutes – the government’s target response time.

A spokesperson for the Health Minister David Davis denied that the Ambulance service was failing to keep up with the high demand and cited a 13.7 per cent increase in ambulance shifts operating in the Geelong area. He says, the Geelong has more paramedics now than it’s ever had.

What does this mean for RSA Staff?

As RSA staff we have a duty to serve alcohol in a socially responsible manner so as not to contribute to the high number of alcohol related incidents tying up ambulances and other medical services, keeping them from seeing to patients with “real” non-self-inflicted problems. We can do this by completing the Responsible Service of Alcohol course and adhering to all RSA rules.



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