Southwest Ambulance of Mesa, Ariz., has partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s (MADD) “Tie One On For Safety” campaign since 2004. The organization’s red ribbons are tied to vehicles to raise awareness of drunken driving during the winter holiday season, from Nov. 25 to Jan. 2.
Josh Weiss, director of communications and public information for Southwest Ambulance and Rural/Metro says, “We all too often see the consequences of drunken driving crashes. And I say crashes rather than accidents, because they are preventable.”
This year, more than 300 ambulances and other vehicles sported the red ribbons. Some employees even took ribbons home to put on their private vehicles.
These act as one more reminder of the public’s need to take driving seriously. And the ribbons represent another way Southwest can help prevent the devastation of an alcohol-related crash during what should be a festive time of year, says Weiss.
We give a thumbs up to Southwest for continuing to raise awareness about this issue. Flying the red ribbons may have helped some citizens get home alive over the holiday season.
Racing to Save a Life
Germain Boer, 73, didn’t plan to complicate his Thanksgiving by having a heart attack during an 8,000 runner race. But because he did, the day turned into a series of miraculous events.
Boer collapsed about a mile and a half into the Boulevard Bolt run. Registered nurses Troy and Beth Sparks saw Boer hit the ground. When they reached him, his face was purple and he had no pulse. Beth counted cadence as Troy began CPR. He knew the new American Heart Association-recommended CPR, so he focused on
About a minute later, Corey Slovis, MD, a race participant as well as chair of the department of emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical director for the Nashville Fire Department and Nashville International Airport, came upon the collapsed runner.
Boer was shocked with an AED at least five times but with no response. He was transported to the critical care unit at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville. Slovis didn’t expect the resuscitation attempts to be successful, but surprisingly Boer left the hospital a few days later alive and well.
Slovis says, “The man was lucky in as many ways as possible. First, he wasn’t running alone in an isolated area. Aid was rendered 10–30 seconds after he fell. There were paramedics, ambulances and defibrillators nearby. And no one wasted valuable time trying to establish an airway.”
We give a thumbs up to Troy and Beth Sparks and to Slovis for sprinting to action to help save Boer’s life. We also applaud the race’s organizers for ensuring a defibrillator was close at hand.
Miscommunication Takes its Toll
A volunteer agency recently raced through the “Good to Go” lane on the Tacoma Narrows bridge in Washington to deliver a critical patient to the hospital. Volunteers don’t usually use that bridge, so they didn’t have the transponder that would have automatically billed the fire department. So the department had to pay a $52 fine.
Patricia Michaud of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) told JEMS that an emergency vehicle responding to an emergency is exempt from paying tolls. But the enforcement camera that captures pictures of offending vehicles doesn’t have a way of determining who’s on an emergency run. If the EMS agency notifies WSDOT customer service, WSDOT can prevent the information from going to the court system. But in this case, WSDOT didn’t know anything about the incident until two months later when it hit the news, says Michaud.
In the spring of 2011, the system will change. Those who run through toll booths will receive a bill and have 30 days to pay or appeal.
The EMS providers should have thought to tell someone in administration about the situation, but in the stress of getting a patient to the hospital, it could have slipped their minds. We hope this EMS agency—and others in the region—figure out how to handle this issue before they cross this bridge again, so to speak. But until then, we give all parties involved a thumbs down for a general lack of communication on the matter. JEMS
This article originally appeared in February 2011 JEMS as “Last Word: The ups and downs of EMS.”