Paramedic caught high on drugs while working on shift

A paramedic who had a cocktail of drugs, including ice, in his system while working has been suspended. 

Drug and alcohol testing in June 2020 revealed that Ambulance Victoria paramedic Michael Graham had methamphetamine, cannabis, amphetamine, codeine and delta-9-TCH-COOH (indicative of the use of cannabis) in his system.

His registration was immediately suspended. 

Mr Graham was referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal by the Paramedicine Board of Australia in 2022.

Ambulance and paramedics at the Northern Hospital in Melbourne
The experienced paramedic admitted to a long history of illicit drug use.

The board says he started his shift at the Frankston branch on June 5, 2020 as an Advanced Life Support paramedic and performed duties, including driving an ambulance at least once during the shift, with a cocktail of drugs in his system. 

Mr Graham, now in his early 50s, further admitted to using methamphetamine intermittently and in the days prior to June 5, 2020. 

He said that he had used methamphetamine for a year and a half to two years previously, and that his use had increased very slowly over the period.

He had been rostered as a paramedic four days on and four days off and reported a pattern of using methamphetamine and cannabis on his days off. 

Mr Graham admitted to regular cannabis use in his thirties and said he returned to regular methamphetamine use in his forties, after first using it at 16 and abstaining in his twenties and thirties.

Mr Graham’s employment with Ambulance Victoria was terminated in September 2020.

In a letter to the tribunal dated February 2023, Mr Graham’s GP Caleb Lim said he had been treating him since December 2021.

Dr Lim described Mr Graham as fit and well to return to work as a paramedic, as numerous clean drug tests showed he had not used amphetamines since July 2020 or cannabis since August 2020

At a hearing on Thursday the tribunal, led by senior member John Billings, suspended Mr Graham's registration for a further 12 months. 

Mr Billings said the board had contemplated seeking cancellation of Mr Graham’s registration but was mindful of his rehabilitation, insight and remorse.

"We regard Mr Graham’s conduct as very serious, for he exposed patients, colleagues and members of the public to grave risk of harm," Mr Billings said in his published findings. 

"Mr Graham’s use of illicit substances was detected on one day in 2020 but, for however precisely long his conduct went on before that day, he used those substances over a considerable period of time, and in substantial quantities, which increased the risk of serious harm to other persons."

He will be able to apply for registration in June 2025 but will be subject to random urine drug screening and continued treatment with a psychologist. 

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