Victoria's triple-zero authority could be facing an emergency call of its own, with the threat of a class-action lawsuit 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 reports a series of 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," the firm's Gemma Leigh-Dodds said in a statement on Tuesday.
"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."
Slater and Gordon is investigating whether those affected are entitled to compensation.
"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.
Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes committed to act as a "model litigant" in any potential class action over the call-taking service.
"There is no action yet," she told parliament.
It comes after a string of recent deaths, which have been linked to ambulance delays.
Last week, a budget estimates hearing was told at least 21 Victorians have died while waiting on ambulances over the past six months.
Failures in the triple-zero system were blamed for 18 of those deaths, with three attributed to paramedics not getting to patients on time.
In October last year, Melbourne girl Alisha Hussein, 14, died after a delayed ambulance dispatch.
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 died while waiting more than six hours for an ambulance in Caulfield North.
Opposition emergency services spokesman Brad Battin described the deaths as a failure by the Victorian government.
"The real reason this legal action is happening is Daniel Andrews has disrespected those families by not reading the report into the issues happening in triple zero, creating delays and causing death here in Victoria," Mr Battin said.
A damning report into the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority, led by former Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton, was released by the state government on Thursday.
ESTA will now be rebadged as Triple Zero Victoria and undergo significant changes to improve performance standards.
Australian Associated Press
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