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Echuca paramedics voice their concerns

Paramedics in Echuca are worried for patient safety as the service battles with Victorian Government protocols.

TRENT HORNEMAN August 27, 2014 3:06am

Echuca paramedics fear a patient could die while emergency services struggle with Victorian government protocols for specialist paramedic resources.

After promises of a single response unit (SRU) and Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) paramedic in Echuca ahead of the 2010 Victorian election, the city is still waiting.

Paramedic Joanne Kerr said the resource was critical.

She said the nearest SRU is Shepparton - a minimum 30-minute road trip in an emergency.

The 22-year veteran said this included a MICA paramedic, trained to help administer certain drugs and who had an advanced skill set.

Mrs Kerr said there have been at least two instances in just the past month where an SRU could have helped better treat a patient.

‘‘There was a trauma case on the river when a patient had a head injury. Under our guidelines, they need to be in a major trauma centre in 45 minutes,’’ she said.

‘‘HEMS, a medical helicopter, was refused and the patient was taken to Echuca hospital, which is not a trauma centre.

‘‘After eight hours they were finally taken to a trauma centre, when it should have happened in 45 minutes.’’

Mrs Kerr said in another case she was transporting a patient who needed medication and an SRU could have been sent.

‘‘Bendigo refused our request to have an SRU come out from there,’’ she said.

With SRUs having a vital role to play in trauma cases, Mrs Kerr said it would be a welcome addition to Echuca’s ambulance station as it neared peak tourist season.

‘‘We are in a black spot here and it is really stretching us thin,’’ she said.

‘‘It is frustrating knowing that a patient needs more help than I am able to give.’’

Member for Rodney Paul Weller has joined Echuca paramedics in calling on Ambulance Victoria and the Victorian Health minister to fund a unit in Echuca.

‘‘I realise the importance of them, that is why I have continued to ask for one in the region,’’ he said.

‘‘I continue to put the issue in front of the minister. I cannot say what will happen in the run to the election.

‘‘It is more than just funding a unit, it is then also finding paramedics with the right training to fill the roles as well.’’

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