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Victoria Prepares for Thunderstorm Asthma

A real-time monitoring system to track emergency demand is in the sights of the Victorian Government as they hope to better prepare for large-scale emergencies such as thunderstorm asthma.

The system which will be funded in the Victorian Budget 2017/18, comes as part of a $15.56 million package to ensure faster response times and more accurate predictions of emergency situations.

This announcement has coincided with the release of the final report into the thunderstorm asthma event last November.

The report, released by Health Minister Jill Hennessy has revealed there was “no evidence to suggest that this storm would result in a health emergency of such unprecedented scale and consequences, and that Victoria had no way of predicting the likely extent, or duration of the event,” a government media release said.

It also found the event lead to Ambulance Victoria receiving the highest number of requests for assistance within the shortest period of time in Victoria’s history.

“We’re putting in place the right systems and training, so that if thunderstorm asthma or another extreme weather event happens, we’re as ready as we possibly can be.

“I want to assure the families affected by this event that we have made every effort to learn from this tragedy and to do whatever we can to better respond in the future,” Minister Hennessy said.

The $15.56 million in funding will go towards developing a new monitoring system, as well as:

  • Emergency management training for hospitals and health workers
  • More research to improve our understanding and treatment of thunderstorm asthma
  • Education and engagement campaigns to assist communities to prepare for and respond to epidemic thunderstorm asthma
  • Increased monitoring and interpretation of pollen data
  • Research to inform forecasting, modelling and response protocols
  • Improved real-time monitoring of data sources, including emergency department demand