A Mildura man has met the paramedics who helped save his life with the assistance of new equipment that helps diagnose heart attacks sooner.
Truck driver and grandfather of three Darren Vincent, 46, felt tightness in the chest when he and wife Paula were on the banks of the Murray River one February afternoon. They started driving home, and rang their son who called Triple Zero.
Advanced Life Support (ALS) paramedics Melanie Draper and Andrew Giles were first on the scene. They assessed Daren using a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) and confirmed that he was having heart attack.
Whilst commencing immediate treatment, they called for Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) back up.
MICA paramedics met the ALS crew on the way to hospital and Darren was given medications to dissolve dangerous clots in his blood vessels.
Darren was taken to Mildura hospital and then the local airfield where he was flown by fixed wing aircraft to Essendon airport. He was then transferred to Sunshine hospital where he received specialist cardiac care.
Darren said he was very appreciative of all the paramedics’ efforts.
`If it wasn’t for Melanie and Andrew picking up what they picked up and getting me to the MICA unit things could have turned out very differently. They’d probably have been picking me up off the floor, trying to jump start me and keep me alive,’ Darren said.
`Nobody knows what would have happened if I hadn’t had the 12-lead ECG and the thrombolysis.
`I’ve got three granddaughters and a grandson on the way. Nobody wants to miss that. I’m only 46. I’ve got a long way to go yet.’
MICA paramedics across Victoria have carried 12-lead ECGs for several years. MICA paramedics, outside metropolitan Melbourne and Geelong, have been giving thrombolysis drugs with the aim to restore blood flow to the heart muscle earlier since 2014.
Under a new pilot program, more than 170 ALS paramedics in 14 rural and regional towns have also been trained in using the 12-lead ECG machines and are now carrying the equipment.
The 12-lead ECG machines allow ALS paramedics in the pilot to diagnose all types of heart attacks.
Melanie said the 12-lead ECG was `an absolute asset and a great advancement’ for ALS crews.
Andrew said he was looking forward to catching up with Darren and seeing how he was going.
Ambulance Victoria Acting General Manager Emergency Operations Anthony Carlyon said research showed the sooner the dangerous clots in heart blood vessels could be treated, by either a clotdissolving drug or have a specialist in hospital procedure, the better outcome for the patient.
`ALS paramedics can often be the first crew on the scene. Having ALS paramedics use 12-lead ECGs means we can diagnose a heart attack earlier, which we know is critical for survival,’ Mr Carlyon said.
`Early diagnosis by our paramedics means we can get early notification to the receiving hospital and they can prepare for the patient.
`Darren’s case is a great example of a whole of system approach, from initial ambulance response, high quality assessment, delivery-specific care, local hospital support and prompt transport to specialist cardiac care, can provide great patient benefit.’
ALS paramedics have been trained to use 12-lead ECG machines in the following towns: Portland, Heywood, Hamilton, Casterton, Lakes Entrance, Cowes, Ararat, Alexandra, Seymour, Yea, Kilmore, Wallan, Mildura and Irymple