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December 14, 2011

On the road with the paramedics in Frankston

Here is an article about Paramedics and how they bring people to hospital with suspected heart attacks…



From the Mornington Peninsula LEADER, 10 AUG 2011

MICA Paramedics Yvette and Cam (seated) treat patient Spencer at his Langwarrin house. Picture: JASON SAMMON

MICA Paramedics Yvette and Cam (seated) treat patient Spencer at his Langwarrin house. Picture: JASON SAMMON

IN A cosy house next to Frankston Hospital, coffee is being made. It’s 6.40am and a new shift on MICA 6 (Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance) is about to start.

MICA paramedics Yvette and Cam are making sure the dual-car ambulance “truck” is ready. They have worked together for years. Today Yvette will treat patients while Cam will drive and act as support.

The first call comes through on the portable radio at 7.56am.

A 43-year-old man in Langwarrin has chest pains. It could be a heart attack.

The siren is switched on and they’re on their way, followed by a support MICA single responder driven by team manager Doug Quilliam.

As Cam guides the truck through heavy morning traffic, Yvette checks the message on the computer screen. “He’s conscious and breathing,” she said.

The siren is turned off and on several times on the journey.

“Big trucks can’t instantly stop for us,” Cam said.

“And it can cause drivers to panic. I don’t want them to pull over on the other side of the road. I refuse to overtake on the left-hand side. It’s very dangerous.”

In no time, we arrive at a suburban home. Spencer began to experience chest pains at 7.30pm the night before. “It’s like a hot, sharp knitting needle through my chest,” Spencer said as he rated the pain 7 out of 10.

Spencer’s father suffered a heart attack – and Spencer is a smoker.

His wife, Leanne, said Spencer didn’t want her to trouble anyone.

“But all I could think of was the TV ad where the man says ‘if only I’d called an ambulance’,” she said.

Spencer is given an aspirin and tells the paramedics the pain is radiating into his throat.

It feels like he’s got a lump in his chest. Cam applies electrocardiogram (ECG) patches. Yvette checks the ECG results.

“OK, we’ll call Peninsula Private Hospital. You could possibly be having a heart attack,” she said.

More paramedics arrive as Spencer is given pain relief and an anti-nausea injection and is loaded on to a trolley for the short trip to hospital.

Out of sight of her small children, Leanne breaks down. Doug Quilliam comforts her.

The ECG results are sent by Bluetooth to the hospital and a smooth ride into a special entrance created for ambulances sees Spencer being wheeled straight into surgery.

It’s 8.55am, an hour since the call. It’s been a quick procession of events: it needs to be, with heart attacks.

Head cardiologist Dr Greg Szto orders an emergency coronary angiogram to see if there is a blockage requiring a coronary angioplasty or stent.

But then it’s good news: it appears there isn’t a blockage. The map of Spencer’s heart on the computer screen shows all is normal.

“It’s a great outcome,” Yvette said.

Then the next call comes through.

A 78-year-old woman in Seaford is suffering chest pain and is in severe respiratory distress.

MICA 6 is on its way.