Paramedics can't say why they left a man for dead

AMBULANCE Victoria can't explain how a man was mistakenly declared dead in a car wreck but says the paramedics involved are unlikely to face disciplinary action.

State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers were in the process of removing what they thought was a corpse from the wreckage of a Porsche yesterday when they discovered the man had a "feeble pulse".

Two intensive care paramedics were called back to the scene and the critically injured driver, a 30-year-old Hawthorn man, was treated and taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he is fighting for life.

Ambulance Victoria regional manager Simon Thomson could not explain how the paramedics concluded that the man was dead, despite having a "cursory discussion" with them last night.

"Paramedics use a process to assess whether someone has died or not. We're not clear of the exact circumstances on this occasion," he told reporters today.

"However, what we do know is that a man was extensively trapped in the vehicle and that that has been a factor in terms of paramedics being able to access him to assess him."

An investigation has been launched but Mr Thomson said it would take several days to get a clearer picture of what went wrong.

The two highly experienced paramedics are traumatised and did not complete their shifts on Sunday night. They are presently on rostered days off and and would be unlikely to face disciplinary action, Mr Thomson said.

"We need to understand exactly what's happened and, if there are any gaps in our processes, we will review that with the staff," he said.

"If it's an area of clinical judgment we'll deal with it through retraining and supporting the staff."



A CAR crash victim pronounced dead by paramedics but later found to be alive has been taken off the critical list.

The 30-year-old Hawthorn man was critically injured after his Porsche and a four-wheel drive collided near Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne, about 2am (AEST) on Sunday.

He was moments away from being taken to the morgue when rescue volunteers disregarded paramedics' advice, discovering he was still alive.

The man has been fighting for his life in the Royal Melbourne Hospital but his condition has improved slightly to serious but stable.

The man had been pronounced dead for more than an hour and covered in a plastic tarp when State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers found a pulse.

They had earlier seen the man's body shudder and twitch as he hung upside down from his mangled car, but were reassured by paramedics that movement from a corpse was not unusual.

An investigation has been launched.


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