Associations lament severe shortage of medical frontliners

Malaysian Red Crescent Society

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Source_Star: Associations lament severe shortage of medical frontliners By WONG PEK MEI

Paramedics are the frontliners in the medical services industry but a severe shortage of those qualified in this field is affecting the lives of the people in emergency cases, particularly road accidents.

There have been cases where hospitals could only send out ambulances with just a driver and a junior nurse, thus depriving victims of the crucial medical aid before they reach the hospitals.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr David Quek said:

Trained paramedics should be in the medical team because they are the frontliners. Unfortunately, the lack of paramedics has made the situation less than ideal for patients in cases of emergencies.”

He said there had been cases where lives could have been saved if they had been given pre-admission medical attention before reaching the hospital.

“Paramedics are needed to perform timely and life-saving emergency medical aid to the seriously wounded while they are being sent to the hospital,” he told The Star.

He said the acute shortage of trained and qualified paramedics to provide on-the-spot treatment to stabilise patients could make a difference between life and death.

St John Ambulance Malaysia (SJAM) commander-in-chief Da­­tuk Dr Low Bin Tick concurred, saying paramedics were difficult to come by.

He said based on SJAM estimates, there were only 50 qualified paramedics in the country.

Expressing concern over the startling figure, he called on the Government to train more paramedics to overcome the shortage.

“The problem arose because of the lack of career opportunities for paramedics to pursue the specialisation full-time and the low salary,” said Dr Low.

He added that there was no clear-cut career path for paramedics.

Malaysian Red Crescent Selangor branch training director S. Rama­nuja Muniandy agreed with Dr Low, adding that paramedics needed the support of the authorities in terms of career advancement.

“Paramedics would usually be employed at emergency units of hospitals and are not sent out on the field,” he said.

Ramanuja said there were many first-aiders or lay-rescuers but not qualified paramedics in the country.

“We give a lot of on-the-job, first-aid and emergency training to employees in factories and ambulance drivers in the private sector.

“However, they are not pursuing it full-time.

“A highly-trained paramedic would need to undergo at least three years of certified intensive training in these areas and be able to give efficient on-the-spot emergency treatment,” he said.

Ramanuja said Malaysia was still lagging behind Western countries like Canada and Britain in terms of giving emergency rescue and medical response to victims of a disaster.

“In Canada, paramedics have a degree in pre-hospital care,” he said.

He said ambulance services would normally focus on transporting patients to a hospital instead of giving them the crucial on-the-spot medical attention.

“The authorities should look into this matter very seriously to prevent unnecessary loss of lives,” he said.

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One Response to “Associations lament severe shortage of medical frontliners”

  1. Malaysian paramedics Says:

    50 paramedics? we have thousands assistant medical officer in Malaysia which have been trained to be a paramedics.. Thousands of them possess MTLS, ACLS, PALS etc… not just Basic Life Support…

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