More for ambulance services

South Australians are benefitting from additional ambulance resources, investment and innovative service delivery improvements.

An additional $25 million has been invested in SA Ambulance Service SAAS since 20/21 and we will have an additional 281 FTE by June 2022.

Resourcing

Staffing

The SAAS workforce has increased by 187 FTE over the past two years.

Graduated paramedic pathway

A $755,000 project has created a new pathway into paramedicine, helping ensure South Australians get the health support they need, when they need it.

Health workers and volunteer ambulance officers can apply for a funded Graduated Paramedic Pathway role at SAAS. Successful candidates are able to train to Diploma level courses delivered by Central Queensland University, whilst at the same time working for SAAS and gaining valuable experience on road under the guided support of paramedic mentors. They will then be able to progress to undertake the nationally accredited Bachelor of Paramedical Science.

18 GPPs commenced in the first intake in 2021 and a further 13 positions are expected to be filled in the next recruitment process.

Community paramedics

Community Paramedics is a program which has been running in Ceduna and Robe for the past five years. It involves two paramedics providing preventive health screening, pre-hospital health care and education tailored to the needs of local communities.  The jointly funded program, has been extended until the start of 2022.

Following the huge success of Robe and Ceduna, a third model has been trailed across the Fleurieu. There, two paramedics have been working with local Residential Aged Care Facilities  to treat residents and reduce low acuity hospital transfers. A review will now take place. 

Each program demonstrates the high-level skills and versatility of our paramedics and is delivering better health services for our vulnerable communities.

Infrastructure and investment

A fleet of 46 new state-of-the-art ambulances hit roads across South Australia from June 2020, as part of a $6.4 million investment. The upgraded fleet has enhanced our world-class health service as it treats critically ill patients and provides emergency transport to hospital and followed the roll out of a dozen state-of-the-art ‘SPRINT’ vehicles, playing a key role in reducing ambulance response times and in delivering life-saving patient outcomes. The new Mercedes-Benz VS30 Sprinter ambulance have improved safety features and the latest technology, including improved leather seats for infection control and Wi-Fi for ease of transmitting clinical data.

SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) Major Capital Plan is set to deliver station rebuilds in Roxby Downs, Birdwood, Hawker, and Strathalbyn. A further nine stations across SA are scheduled for major works, with Meadows, Coonalpyn Tailem Bend and Lameroo, all completed in 2020-2021. Minor upgrades are also planned for Wudinna, Peterborough, Balaklava, Crystal Brooke, Port Broughton and Gladstone.

Frontline emergency ambulance and emergency support fleet received new lifesaving equipment following a $8.6 million investment in new Corpuls defibrillators.

In 2020/21 SAAS also commenced a $950,000 program of major facility and security upgrades at SAAS Headquarters accommodation and in career Ambulance stations.

Alternate care pathways and service development

In recent years, SAAS has evolved and the scope of work has expanded far beyond classic emergencies like heart attacks, strokes, car crashes, and traumatic injuries.

SAAS responds to many patients who are less urgent but still have complex conditions. These lower acuity patients are often the ones who wait for ambulance attendance or are delayed on a hospital ramp. At the same time, our paramedics can get caught up with these patients, leaving them unavailable to attend others with more urgent needs.

SAAS is committed to:

  • Improving patient care - ED is not always the most appropriate destination for low acuity patients, especially the elderly or people experiencing a mental health crisis. Other care pathways can improve patient care by offering the most appropriate care for their situation, often providing treatment sooner than an ED and with specialised care and follow-up.
  • Reducing transfer of care delays (ramping) - Low acuity patients are more likely to face delays in ambulance response and treatment in an ED.  Alternate pathways help to reduce ramping by referring patients to appropriate care other than an ED.

In the last two years SAAS has successfully partnered with other health services to integrate more than 10 new referral pathways. into the SAAS service delivery model in a safe and clinically governed way.

These pathways include:

  • Priority Care Centres provide timely care for patients with non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses who are deemed to be clinically stable and not needing emergency department treatment.
  • Mental Health Co-Response (MH CORE) partners paramedics with mental health professionals to successfully manage mental health consumers at home or in community-based services.
  • The Hospital Avoidance and Supported Discharge Service is for patients who require a more complex assessment or higher level of care than provided by a GP or PCC, and would otherwise be transported to an ED.
  • Urgent Mental Health Care Centre provides specialised mental health care and support for people experiencing a mental health crisis.
  • My Home Hospital provides home-based care for patients who would otherwise need to be admitted to a public hospital for conditions such as cellulitis, respiratory infections, kidney and urinary tract infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and deep vein thrombosis.
  • The Complex and Restorative (CARE) service is for elderly patients and has an assessment and treatment centre at the Repat health precinct, along with a team who can provide care in the patient’s own home.
  • In 2020, SAAS also launched the Clinical Telephone Assessment service, using experienced paramedics to provide clinical assessment by phone for non-urgent callers to Triple Zero (000), proving them with faster access to a clinical assessment and streamlined access to the most appropriate care for their needs.