Victoria’s triple-zero authority could be facing an emergency call of its own, with the threat of a class-action law suit following recent deaths linked to systemic failures in the service.
Law firm Slater and Gordon believes thousands of Victorians could join the lawsuit against the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority, after a series of fatal errors led to at least 15 deaths and multiple injuries, including to children, since 2014.
An investigation by Slater and Gordon found longer than usual call wait times and ambulance dispatch delays resulted in thousands of “avoidable” and “unnecessary” health complications.
“The health system has been under strain in recent years, but Victorians should always be able to register a call for help,” Slater and Gordon class actions Senior Associate Gemma Leigh-Dodds said in a statement.
“ESTA’s critical role means its shortcomings are not just unfortunate, we believe they have led to multiple deaths and injuries that could have been prevented.”
It comes after a string of tragic deaths linked to ambulance delays.
In October last year, Melbourne girl Alisha Hussein, 14, died while waiting for an ambulance.
Her mother was put on hold for 15 minutes after calling triple zero, despite ESTA’s requirement that 90 per cent of calls be answered within five seconds.
In April last year, a woman in her 30s also died while waiting more than six hours for an ambulance in Caulfield North.
“We believe ESTA has breached its statutory and common law obligations by not providing its required service when callers expect to be connected to urgent medical help in a timely manner,” Ms Leigh-Dodds said.
The law firm is investigating whether those affected are entitled to compensation.