Ambulance Victoria has committed to become a more sustainable ambulance service. This includes achieving net zero emissions five years prior to the Victorian State Government commitment of 2050 with additional emissions reduction targets for 2025 and 2030. By fulfilling these targets, the carbon footprint for each patient cared for by Ambulance Victoria will be halved by 2030.
It is apparent that to meet these emission reduction targets, Ambulance Victoria’s current model of care needs perpetual refinement. Reducing emissions from electricity and fleet start to look easy in comparison to reducing low value care. Delivering better care to a patients according to their particular healthcare needs suggests that our pre-hospital service needs to be reimagined to start prior to any patient picking up the phone to dial Triple 000. Ambulance Victoria are discovering new ways to offer best care for particular patient cohorts via new technologies such as telehealth and the Virtual ED and by partnering across our communities primary and secondary healthcare networks, to offer timely support to those for whom an ambulance doesn’t offer the greatest benefit.
In 2021, Ambulance Victoria undertook a study to map the carbon pollution associated with its Triage Services and measure changes in carbon pollution resulting from the use of alternate patient care pathways. The analysis revealed interesting results that have implications for pre-hospital service design in the future. We hope that this study offers insight into new ways of thinking for decision makers and enables a triple bottom line approach to assessing the benefit of programs and keeping an awareness of how to serve the community in more environmentally sustainable ways.
Using a multipronged approach to improving healthcare sustainability at Ambulance Victoria can reduce the environmental impact of pre-hospital healthcare services and thereby minimise the health impacts from the sector that are associated with dangerous climate change.
Catherine O’Shea spent 25 years nursing in various hospitals prior to completing a Masters of Environment and Sustainability at Monash University in 2009, where after she pivoted to healthcare sustainability. Since then she has worked on diverse projects under the banner of sustainability, particularly in her role as Sustainability Coordinator at Western Health. She remains passionate, bringing about positive change in the healthcare sector during this critical climate decade. She currently works at Ambulance Victoria as Sustainability Analyst.