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Ambulance officers denied access to life saving drugs

Photo: Ambulance officers denied access to life saving drugs
Lives are being placed at risk by a refusal to allow Non-Emergency Patient Transport vehicles in Victoria to carry lifesaving drugs, including EpiPen’s.

Paramedic Peter Bailey, Managing Director of Event Paramedics, which provides a Non-Emergency Patient Transport (NEPT) service, said “despite new Clinical Practice Protocols being adopted, which were developed in conjunction with Ambulance Victoria and supported by the Chief Paramedic, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services is rejecting applications by NEPT services to carry lifesaving drugs”.

"This failure by the Department places the public at risk every day of the week. This is even more important when we know that emergency ambulance response time in Victoria falls behind the international benchmark. Average response times in Victoria is twice the acceptable worldwide standard, with times of 7 to 8 minutes."
“It appears that the recent change in the protocols didn’t take into account required changes to the Drugs & Poisons Act, and the Department are leaving the NEPT sector in the dark about where they stand and what is being done to fix this fatal bungle.”

The NEPT sector plays a much-undervalued vital role in the delivery of health services in Victoria, including transfers between hospitals, or between home and hospital. Some aged care patients may also be transported to and from specialist health appointments and rehabilitation.

The NEPT sector also provides services at varied events around the state which include horse racing, soccer, concerts and motorsport events. The NEPT sector in recent times has seen an increase in attendance at emergency situations when Ambulance Victoria are unable to do so. The NEPT sector also has a key role in a mass causality situation.

As a comparison to a highly skilled ambulance health care professional, members of the public can undertake a 4-hour training course which allows them to purchase and administer an Epi Pen. People working for Ambulance Victoria on a casual basis who have undertaken training to a Certificate 4 level, which is below that of a Paramedic are able to provide a higher-level care to members of the public than those who work full time in the NEPT sector and have an educational level to either a diploma or degree level.

“The failure by the Department to fix this discrepancy needs to be fixed immediately, otherwise lives will be lost.” said Mr Bailey.


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