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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

No replacement for MICA paramedics

Echuca will be without a MICA paramedic when the two already stationed in town leave.

MONIQUE PRESTON March 12, 2013 4:22am

Echuca will not have any highly trained Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance paramedics once the two stationed in town leave.

A new Ambulance Victoria policy brought in last year will see no more MICA paramedics employed in the town.

The two already stationed in Echuca will be allowed to stay, but will be replaced with regular paramedics when they leave or retire.

The change will mean Shepparton, Bendigo and Swan Hill will be the closest towns with MICA paramedics, meaning Echuca and district residents will either have to wait longer for them to arrive or be treated by other paramedics who are based locally.

One of the two Echuca MICA paramedics, Ian Wines, said MICA paramedics were more highly skilled in advanced techniques and carried a wider array of drugs than other paramedics.

Among the techniques are ones many GPs do not do, he said.

The MICA paramedics are trained to do rapid sequence induction (RSI) which sees a patient placed in an induced coma before a tube is inserted down their throat while they are ventilated.

Anaesthetists and some emergency room doctors are generally the only others to perform this procedure.

Victoria is set apart from other states, with its MICA paramedics the only mobile units in Australia trained in this procedure.

‘‘In other states, it is only performed by elite staff on helicopters,’’ Mr Wines said.

Despite this, and unlike in South Australia, Western Australia or the ACT, Victoria’s paramedics are not recognised as ‘medical professionals’.

Mr Wines is worried Echuca will also lose paramedic staff who want to further their careers, as they would not be able to move up the ranks here.

‘‘If one of our staff has ambitions of doing MICA, they will have to transfer to another station where MICA is,’’ he said.

‘‘If they want to further their career, they have to leave (Echuca) and can never return.

‘‘On one hand, they want to encourage people to upgrade their skills...but are very restrictive in where they can use them.’’

Mr Wines said the withdrawal of funding for MICA paramedics in Echuca would also mean if a MICA paramedic was to apply for a job in the town, they would be prevented from working at MICA level.

Mr Wines and Echuca’s other MICA paramedic, Craig Riddington, do not have a dedicated MICA ambulance.

The pair work out of normal ambulances, but carry extra equipment with them.

Before the changes to the number of MICA paramedics at Echuca, Mr Wines said there had never been a ceiling to the number of MICA paramedics who could be employed at Echuca, with seven staff from here having trained to a MICA level during his time in town.

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