The Ups and Down of EMS



From the June 2010 Issue | Monday, May 31, 2010

A Lot of Bull
We transport a lot of strange patients, but none as unusual as one belonging to a Pakistani doctor. In April, an official from Punjab’s provincial health department intercepted a doctor carrying in an ambulance a large cow he had just bought at a local market. For the doctor’s sake, we hope the cow made a full recovery.

Sweet Success
When you’re performing CPR in the back of a moving ambulance for an extended period—it’s no small feat, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital (SLCH) recognizes that effort. The hospital’s “Clinical Save Program” honors EMS providers who deliver “exemplary care to pediatric patients suffering from cardio-pulmonary arrests or failures.”

Recently, the hospital hosted a reception to acknowledge the efforts of the Affton Fire Protection District for their work in resuscitating a 13-year-old student in cardiopulmonary arrest. When the crew responded, they found the patient not breathing and without a pulse. They were able to revive and transport her to SLCH. The arrest was later attributed to an undiagnosed heart condition.

The hospital’s program supports prehospital providers because they “value their contributions to the community and consider them important members of [the] health-care team,” says Peggy Gordin, vice president of patient care services at SLCH. Both prehospital and hospital providers play an important role in patient care. The Clinical Save Program demonstrates a mutual respect between both types of providers, and JEMS hopes to see more programs like this one.

Disciplinary Action
House Bill 1030, authored by Louisiana state representative Karen St. Germain and passed by the House 94–0 on April 29, amends existing legislation to provide “... that certain employees [firefighters] and volunteers are exempt from the authority of the commission [Louisiana Emergency Medical Services Certification Commission] to conduct disciplinary hearings, request investigations, and initiate prosecution, except [those that] pertain to scope of practice or patient care issues.”

Jullette Saussy, MD, New Orleans Emergency Medical Services director and medical director, says although the commission has no desire to be involved in day-to-day fire operations, there are issues beyond the scope of practice the commission does have a stake in. Knowledge of past or current misdeeds are part of the licensure process.

“We want to make sure human beings who come into your home are worthy of your trust,” she says.

Louisiana State Firemen’s Association President Nick Felton sees things differently. “If I am late to work, it is up to my fire chief to deal with it. Not the state police.” He feels the fire chiefs should have “absolute authority” over non-medical issues.
There’s more involved in delivering care than knowing how to start an IV. We hope Louisiana doesn’t hinder the EMS commission from licensing only those providers who uphold all aspects of EMS professionalism.

Honor to Serve
For World War II veterans, visiting the war memorials in Washington, D.C., can be a memorable and cathartic experience. However, because most of them are in their 80s and 90s, making the trip can be difficult—if not impossible—due to the special needs of aging populations.

That’s where Freedom Honor Flight and paramedics from Tri-State Ambulance in La Crosse, Wis., come in. Three times a year, three Tri-State paramedics accompany some 100 veterans from La Crosse to the nation’s capital, attending to their medical needs, such as performing blood glucose checks.

“This is the other side of EMS where we can serve those who have so unselfishly served us and our country,” says Tom Tornstrom, Tri-State Ambulance operations director. He says it’s an emotional experience for both the veterans and paramedics making the trip.

“These men and women ... returned from war and went home without so much as a thank you,” says Tri-State paramedic Kevin Kuchar, NREMT-P. “You can’t help but develop a huge respect for all they’ve done.”

Thumbs Up to Tri-State paramedics for helping to honor the service of veterans. JEMS

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