In Deep Water



Ann-Marie Lindstrom | | Saturday, July 26, 2008

An incident inFlorida on Halloween night has raised questions about EMS inManatee County,Fla. Residents wonder just what the capabilities of theirEMS crews are.

According to the Bradenton Herald, Theodore Thomas and Johnnie Schoolfield were traveling at high speed in an SUV that plowed through two fences and ended up in a pond at about 11:15. Neighbors called 9-1-1, and Manatee County EMS arrived while Thomas was struggling in the water and calling for help in about 15 feet of water. By the time Southern Manatee Fire and Rescue arrived, Thomas had slipped below the water_s surface. Both men died.

Witnesses and family members wondered why paramedics didn_t jump into the pond to save the drowning man. One witness is quoted as saying, ˙Nobody jumped in. You could have given this guy another chance and nobody jumped in.Ó

Manatee County EMS Division Chief Mark Edenfield declined our request for an interview on advice of legal counsel because of possible future litigation. County officials did appear at a public meeting on Nov. 7, where they explained the differences between EMS and rescue to residents: EMS personnel aren_t trained in rescue. Water rescue is particularly dangerous because a flailing person can incapacitate a rescuer.

At the public meeting, Edenfield said county ambulances will start carrying 50-foot ropes to pull people out of water. He also announced that the county has ordered flotation devices for ambulances and that paramedics will take water-safety training. However, according to the Bradenton Herald story, paramedics won_t be allowed to enter the water to save drowning people.

What_s your call on this issue? Did Manatee County EMS operate properly? Are their changes in equipment and training a good idea? Or will those changes prompt citizens to expect EMS personnel to jump into situations that are over their head, putting responders in danger of drowning? Make your comments thoughts count by participating in therelated poll.

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Extrication and Rescue, Leadership and Professionalism, Industry News, Provider Wellness and Safety, Operations and Protcols

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