Alarming upwards trend on ice-related ambulance call-outs

Posted on: Thursday, 08 May 2014

The full Trends in Alcohol and Drug Related Ambulance Attendances in Victoria 2012-13 report can be found here (17 MB pdf). A summary of the report can be found here.

Turning Point experts have called for a united approach to tackle crystal methamphetamine in Victoria, as new figures revealed large increases in ice-related ambulance call-outs across the state. 

Figures contained in the Trends in Alcohol and Drug Related Ambulance Attendances in Victoria 2012-13 report showed a 198 per cent increase in ice-related call-outs in regional Victoria; with 231 call-outs in 2012-13 compared to only 77 in 2011-12.

In metropolitan Melbourne, there was an 88 per cent increase; with 1112 ice-related call-outs in 2012-13 and just 592 call-outs in 2011-12. 

The increase in ice-related call-outs continues an alarming upwards trend, with metropolitan Melbourne only recording 282 incidents in 2010-11 and 136 incidents in 2009-10 (1).  

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

Turning Point researcher Dr Belinda Lloyd said the figures were of great concern, and an all-community approach was required to tackle the problem.

“Government, health agencies, law enforcement, community groups, businesses and local residents must come together to address these issues and discuss possible solutions.”

She said ice can have both physical and mental effects, but it was also important to note that drug use can affect families, friends and the community in general.

“We must continue to work hard to get the message out about what drugs can do to the individual as well as those close to them. Whether its ice, alcohol or even prescription drugs, people need to be aware of the risks involved.”

Ambulance Victoria Regional Manager Mick Stephenson said people who took ice risked potential health complications including exposure to heart problems and stroke.

“People affected by crystal methamphetamine can become very aggressive and the drug exacerbates mental conditions,” he said.


“This is turn can become very concerning and time consuming for paramedics, police and emergency departments who are trying to help.

“Sadly, paramedics see the impact of ice not only on patients but also their families.

“While the figures show that the incidence of ambulance attendance for ice continues to rise, they again highlight that alcohol remains the biggest single cause of substance abuse call-outs.”

“This report also demonstrates that an increase in calls for ambulance attendance arising from the use of ice, cannabis and other drugs is not confined to metropolitan areas and is impacting on areas across the state.”

Associate Professor Karen Smith, Manager of Research and Evaluation at Ambulance Victoria, said: “This showcases a unique collaboration between Ambulance Victoria and Turning Point that allows for the capture and analysis of data on people that may not present to other health services.”

The report also found a large increase in alcohol-related attendances. In metropolitan Melbourne, there were 11,159 call-outs in 2012-13, compared to 8,824 in 2011-12, an increase of 27 per cent. In regional Victoria, there was a 42 per cent increase in alcohol-related attendances, with 3692 in 2012-13 compared to 2594 in 2011-12.  

Turning Point director Dan Lubman said cultural acceptance of excessive alcohol consumption had to stop. 

“There are still far too many assaults, road accidents and injuries because of alcohol. The last place you want to end up on a Friday night is a hospital emergency department.”

The report also revealed increases in a number of other drugs in 2012-2013 compared to 2011-2012. 

Cannabis related attendances increased 51 per cent in metropolitan Melbourne (1416 call-outs in 2012-13 compared to 936 in 2011-12) and a 58 per cent increase in regional Victoria (554 call-outs in 2012-13 compared to 350 in 2011-12).

Ecstasy related attendances increased 61 per cent in metropolitan Melbourne (306 call-outs in 2012-13 compared to 191 in 2011-12) and 62 per cent in regional Victoria (54 call-outs in 2012-13 compared to 33 in 2011-12).

Drugs such as antidepressants and antipsychotics also had increases in both regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne.

The full Trends in Alcohol and Drug Related Ambulance Attendances in Victoria 2012-13 report can be found here (17 MB pdf). A summary of the report can be found here.

(1) Figures for regional Victoria have only been reported on since 2011-12.