Calls to 000 are increasing faster than the population is growing. In 2015/16, while Victoria’s population grew by 1.7%, requests for ambulances grew by 5.7%.
While many of these calls are genuine, non-emergency calls take resources away from where they are needed.
To reduce the number of non-emergency calls to 000 and free up paramedics to respond to genuine, life-threatening situations, the Victorian Government asked The Shannon Company to come up with a communications campaign.
What did we do?
BehaviourWorks was engaged to conduct a Faciliated Dialogue with stakeholders representing Ambulance Victoria, The Victorian Department of Health and the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority, marketing firms and behavioural experts.
Participants were first asked to review the results of a rapid literature and practice review, which looked at how other governments around the world had dealt with the issue.
The group agreed that the best way forward was to talk about the importance of Ambulance Victoria, it’s role in keeping Victorians safe and a broader message about the suite of services available.
Rather than a ‘shock and awe’ style, it’s about shifting the social norm from ‘is there whenever you feel like calling’ to ‘only use this in an emergency’.
Victoria’s Better Health Channel website lists a range of immediate and life-threatening symptoms that constitute an emergency, such as extreme pain, numbness, burns, bleeding, serious accidents and unconsciousness.
So, if people are in doubt, they should call 000. If the paramedic they speak to decides it’s not a health emergency, they’ll be referred elsewhere. And if people know it’s not an emergency, they shouldn’t call 000 at all.