The District of Columbia's first two mobile intensive care units were put into service yesterday, more than one year after the men who man the units completed their intensive two-month training period.
Because of bureacratic delays in certifying the paramedics and in passing a law to provide legal protection for the physicians who will provide them guidance via radio, the men had to complete a retraining course this past September to make sure they had not forgotten what they were taught in the summer of 1976.
The two mobile intensive care units are linked by radio ti physicians at Georgetown University Medical Center and the Washington Hospital Center.
In addition to being able to speak with the doctors in those emergency rooms, the paramedics can use the radio equipment to relay electrocardiograms to the hospital.
The paramedics, unlike the usual ambulance attendants, are allowed to administer certain drugs, particularly those used to treat heart attack victims, and can also administer electric shock treatment used to bring hearts back into normal rhythm.
For the past year these, same paramedics have been unable, because of legal difficulties, to use their trainning, and the mobile intensive care units have been used as regular ambulances.
Eventually, said Emmett Banks, the Emergency Medical Service adviser at the city's Department of Human Resources, the city hopes to have 14 mobile intensive care units on the street to replace the present 12 ambulances.
Thirty-two people now are receiving paramedic training at the Washington Hospital Center, and they should be on the street by December, Banks said.
"We hope to have the entire communications system in Feb. 1", he said, referring to plans to have the ambulances linked by radio to all the city's emergency rooms.
According to Dr. Sander H. Mendelson, chairman of the city's Emergency Medical Services advisory committee, the 16 paramedics now manning the two mobile intensive care units are temporarily certified as paramedics.
The board that will oversee certification, has yet to be appointed, said Mendelson. When the board is appointed it may review the certifications, he said.
Asked if that indicated the crews were not properly trained. Mendelson said, "The job that they will do will be at least equal, and perhaps better, than the job being done (by paramedics) in other locations in the country".