Yarriambiack Shire has state's highest number of alcohol-related ambulance call-outs

Ice is a growing problem in the Wimmera. Picture: FILE PIC

Ice is a growing problem in the Wimmera. Picture: FILE PIC

YARRIAMBIACK Shire has the highest number of alcohol-related ambulance call-outs in regional Victoria. 

New Turning Point data about alcohol and drug related ambulance attendances in Victoria show there were 27 call-outs in the shire between 2012 and 2013.

Horsham Rural City had the highest rate of opioid analgesic-related ambulance attendances and the third highest crystal methamphetamine and antidepressant-related attendances.

Northern Grampians had the second highest antipsychotic-related attendances.

Overall, the study showed a 198 per cent increase in ice-related call-outs in regional Victoria.

Grampians Regional Health alcohol and drugs counsellor and Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce co-ordinator Brendan Scale said the figures were not surprising.

He said alcohol was by far the number one reason for drug-related ambulance call-outs.

“We are less aware of the dangers because alcohol is legal,” he said.

“We tend to downplay the impacts of alcohol and it is so common in our society.

“Emergency services have said it’s the biggest issue in our community.”

Mr Scale said ice was a growing problem in the Wimmera.

He said it was extreme for an ice user to seek ambulance attendance.

“An ice user could have heart palpitations, like they are having a heart attack, or even a stroke,” he said.

“That’s the kind of conditions they could be presenting with, so it’s a serious situation.

“Ice users do die from heart attacks and strokes.”

“Sadly, paramedics see the impact of ice not only on patients but also their families.” - Ambulance Victoria regional manager Mick Stephenson

Mr Scale said ice users could also become aggressive.

“There is a lot of talk about rage with ice users, and that’s related to acute psychosis – they slip out of their own reality,” he said.

Ambulance Victoria regional manager Mick Stephenson said crystal methamphetamine could exacerbate mental conditions.

“This in turn can become very concerning and time consuming for paramedics, police and emergency departments who are trying to help,” he said.

“Sadly, paramedics see the impact of ice not only on patients but also their families.”

Mr Scale said pharmaceutical misuse was also an issue in the Wimmera.

“It exceeds the road toll,” he said.

“People again think it’s safe because it’s legal but pharmaceutical misuse is a growing problem.”

Mr Scale said he expected the rate of ecstasy and heroin-related ambulance call-outs to increase in the next 12 months.

“Other party drugs like ecstasy are being used with ice more often,” he said.

“Heroin-related call-outs are likely to increase because of changes in the formulation of oxycodone, which is found in pain relief medication and commonly crushed and injected.”

He said changes to the formulation would mean users could not inject it.

“By stopping the supply, those who use it will replace it, which means heroin will be manufactured on the black market and there will no way of controlling the potency,” he said.

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