Ice and alcohol ambulance callouts continue to rise

Posted on: Monday, 17 August 2015

To download the full Alcohol and Drug-Related Ambulance Attendance Report, click here. To download the report summary, click here.

New research has revealed ice-related ambulance attendances in Victoria continue to rise.

According to Turning Point’s latest Alcohol and Drug-Related Ambulance Attendances Report, regional Victoria continues to increase at a rate higher that metropolitan Melbourne.

In regional Victoria, there has been a 27 per cent increase in ice-related ambulance attendances, with 295 ice-related ambulance attendances in regional Victoria in 2013-14, compared to 231 in 2012-13.

In metropolitan Melbourne, there has been a ten percent increase, with 1237 ice-related ambulance attendances in 2013-14, up from 1116 in 2012-13.

“I am incredibly concerned that drug and alcohol incidents requiring ambulance attendances continues to rise,” Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Jill Hennessy, said.“Too many people are putting their lives at risk, and the nature of some drugs can mean they show aggression and act violently against paramedics, nurses and doctors who are trying to help them.”

Turning Point’s Head of Research and Workforce Development Associate Professor Belinda Lloyd said the increase in ice-related ambulance attendances continued a worrying upwards trend over the past several years, although this year’s increase was less than recent times.

Between 2011-12 and 2012-13, there was a 198 per cent increase in ice-related call outs in regional Victoria, while in metropolitan Melbourne there was an 88 per cent increase.

“Healthcare organisations, law enforcement agencies, government and the community in general have certainly made a concerted effort to tackle the issue of ice,” she said.

“However, we still need to get the message out there about the dangers involved when you use crystal methamphetamine.”

The report was produced by Turning Point in conjunction with Ambulance Victoria, and is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

Associate Professor Lloyd said alcohol still caused the highest number of drug-related ambulance call outs.

In 2013-14, there were 12,482 alcohol-related call outs in Melbourne (up 11.8 per cent from 2012-13), and 4043 in regional Victoria (up 8 per cent from 2012-13).

“While ice has been getting warranted attention, it is important people are reminded about the harmful effects of excessive alcohol consumption,” she said.

Ambulance Victoria Acting General Manager Emergency Operations Mick Stephenson said the drug ice was like no other in the way it could quickly send people out of control.

”There is a high potential for people affected by ice to be aggressive and violent towards those trying to help them,” Mr Stephenson said.

“Paramedics use a range of methods to manage violent patients or deescalate confrontation, ranging from verbal skills to sedating patients to ensure the most appropriate treatment for these patients.”

“People taking ice risk potential health complications including exposure to heart problems and stroke. It can also exacerbate mental health conditions.”

Turning Point Director Prof Dan Lubman said a collaborative approach was required to tackle alcohol and drug-related issues in the community.

“It is only by working together can we find solutions to the complex problems associated with alcohol and drug use in our community. Whether it’s ice, alcohol, prescription drugs or other substances, as a community we need to get better informed and have honest and open discussions regarding what the evidence tells us about the most effective policy, prevention and treatment responses.”

The Government has committed to introducing a range of measures to support paramedics and health services deal with drug and alcohol affected patients, and has announced a $45.5 million Ice Action Plan to address increasing harms associated with the drug.

Ambulance Victoria Manager Research and Evaluation Associate Professor Karen Smith said the report highlighted the unique collaboration between Ambulance Victoria and Turning Point.

“The report also shows Ambulance Victoria’s commitment to collecting quality patient data, which can be used to inform decision making and improve patient outcomes,” Associate Professor Smith said.

Turning Point operates the State Government’s Ice Advice Line 1800 ICE ADVICE (1800 423 238).

It also operates general drug and alcohol support service DirectLine (1800 888 236) and

All services operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The full report, which including a summary, and local government area statistics for both Metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, can be found at