Suggested Emergency Protocols for Mitta Mitta (or any river) river trips
Updated: Feb 2, 2021
EMERGENCY PROTOCOLS: MITTA MITTA RIVER TRIPS
Please follow these guidelines when encountering injuries, illness, and/or other urgent incidents whilst paddling the Mitta as guides/leaders of school or camp groups, paddling clubs, private paddlers, etc.:
• Always have an appropriately stocked First Aid kit immediately available to you on any river trip.
• Always have someone with First Aid certification on any river trip, and know who they are.
• In any emergency, CALL 000 if you have mobile service or a SAT phone. Practice what to tell dispatch before going on the river!
• If you have an InReach or SPOT send an appropriate help message or SOS in life-threatening circumstances.
• Send out a pair of paddlers/hikers with the basics: o Exact written details to the best access point off the closest major road (Omeo Highway or Omeo Valley Road) . Know your access tracks!*
o Basic patient/victim information to give to hiking/boating crew. It’s important to keep it brief, simple, & with only the most important information (same as below for calls/texts):
MESSAGE SHOULD INCLUDE:
(You may lose your connection, so get the critical information out first (in the order below):
• #Location: When calling 000 you will be asked for your address and closest cross street. The calltaker is able to accept GPS co-ordinates in remote locations. Please have these available BEFORE you call. Also give specific details such as :river features, camps, approximate kilometers upstream or downstream of some identifiable feature that might be recognized by a non-paddler.
• #Nature and severity of Injury/Illness, number of patients/victims: You don’t need to be too technical, but it’s important for the rescuers to have an idea whether they need to move fast, or if they can get there the next morning if it’s late in the day, if they need to contact a chopper or get a dozer, or if they can just meet you at Hinnomunjie or at an access track. o (i.e.: We have a 14 year-old student with a broken lower leg. She’s in pain but this does not appear to be life-threatening. OR: We have an elderly gentleman with severe chest pains radiating down his left arm with a history of heart attacks. We need urgent evacuation! OR: We have 3 severely hypothermic paddlers stuck on a rock in the river.)
• #Access requirements: These could include: 2wd / 4wd / walking access / helicopter access. o It is also important to note if the patient is on the opposite bank of the river and this will require swift water rescue response with appropriate PPE.
• #Any obvious environmental or area hazards. Local weather patterns may or may not be available to last-minute volunteer emergency crews. If you have the info and the time, pass it along.
• #Identifying features of group (i.e.: We have 6 kayaks, 3 yellow and 3 blue, OR we have 4 red rafts and a large green tarp).
• Victim’s age, gender & general level of health.
• Care given, other details.
It is important to understand the resources available in the local area:
Ambulance Victoria Resources in Omeo / Ensay:
AWD Sprinter Van (1 based at Omeo, 1 based at Ensay) This is the primary frontline response vehicle at both Omeo and Ensay. This vehicle is NOT appropriate for most of the steep access tracks into the Mitta.
4wd Retrieval Vehicle (1 based at Omeo). This is a Toyota Troop-carrier that is equipped with a stretcher and a full range of medical and monitoring equipment. AV staff can elect to respond in this vehicle instead of the AWD Van when required.
4wd Pajero (1 based at Omeo). This is the Team Manager vehicle that may be utilised to access the patient in the first instance but is not capable of transporting patients.
Wilderness Response: Ambulance Victoria has specialised Wilderness Response Paramedics. These paramedics are capable of accessing and stabilizing patients in wilderness environments. They are equipped to stay in remote settings for up to 24 hours (tent / sleeping bag / cooker / food / water / wilderness PPE etc). A cache of this equipment is based at Omeo.
AV Staffing: Ambulance Community Officers staff the frontline response vehicles at Omeo and Ensay. ACOs are members of the community who have received training to provide emergency medical first response. ACO staff do not presently have any certification in swift water rescue and will not enter the water or a boat at any time. If necessary & possible you can also try local swiftwater rescue expert Jeffe Aronson (Anglers Rest). Have his contact details available in your rescue / coms kit: 03-5159-7252. *It is important to note he might not be available, and that this should only be attempted AFTER your initial 000 contact, and only as a backup plan.
Omeo Paramedic Community Support Co Ordinator: There is a paramedic who lives in Omeo and is paid to be on duty for 40 hours / week. This paramedic can be recalled to duty after hours when required.