Report: Ambulance call outs increased during mine fire

Image courtesy of Monash Rural Health Latrobe Valley and West Gippsland

New findings from the Hazelwood Health Study (HHS) show an overall increase in ambulance attendances during the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire period.

Using data supplied by Ambulance Victoria for Morwell and surrounding towns, the analysis showed a 15% increased likelihood of ambulance attendances for all conditions during the mine fire period when compared to other times before and after the mine fire.

“When we looked into respiratory conditions specifically, we found there was a 41% increase in ambulance attendances during the mine fire period, compared to ambulance attendances before and after the mine fire,” HHS researcher Associate Professor Yuming Guo said.

“This corresponds to an estimated total of 236 attendances for all conditions and 42 attendances for respiratory conditions associated with the mine fire during the mine fire period.”

“We also wanted to know if there was an association between ambulance attendances and daily pollution levels. By mapping changes in air pollution levels onto ambulance use, we found that increases in the levels of mine fire related air pollution increased ambulance attendances for respiratory conditions.”

HHS Principal Investigator, Professor Michael Abramson cautioned that although “the study adjusted for other factors, such as seasonality, day of the week and public holidays, there were unknown factors that could not be controlled for, such as the proportion of population leaving the area.”

Researchers from the Monash University-led Hazelwood Health Study will be conducting further analyses using ambulance attendances, hospital admissions, emergency presentations and cancer datasets.

For more information about the Hazelwood Health Study, visit hazelwoodhealthstudy.org.au This research was funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

To view a summary of these findings, visit http://hazelwoodhealthstudy.org.au/study-findings/fact-sheets-and-summaries/ or to download the full technical report, visit http://hazelwoodhealthstudy.org.au/study-findings/study-reports/