Good Bill, Bad Decision
Two subcommittees in the Conn. state senate passed Senate Bill 56 on March 18. The bill, introduced by State Senator Cathy Osten, would grant post-traumatic stress treatment to first responders such as teachers, police officers and medical care providers who witnessed tragic events like the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The bill would be retroactive to the time of that traumatic event.
Senate Bill 56 didn’t, however, pass the Senate Appropriations Committee, “because the exact cost to cities and towns to pay such claims (if any) could not be determined,” a press re-lease from Lawrence Cook, a spokesperson for Senator Osten, states.
In 2013, the state legislature created a privately funded foundation to collect funds in support of school staff and first responders at Sandy Hook, but only raised enough money to cover a fraction of the claims. This bill was aimed at filling those gaps to provide future support for first responders.
In our first ever thumbs up and thumbs down, we chide the Connecticut State Senate Appropriations Committee for failing to pass a vital bill, and we commend Osten for introducing a bill that would provide much needed support to first responders and the unaddressed worker’s compensation claims resulting from the tragedy. We encourage Connecticut legislators to work toward signing a similar bill into law.
Military Medical Hero
At the 2014 Heroes of Military Medicine dinner and awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., Senior Master Sgt. David Smith was one of three active-duty service members to receive the Hero of Military Medicine award.
According to the Center for Public-Private Partnerships, the honor is awarded to “an individual who has distinguished himself/herself in medical research or clinical care through compassion, excellence and selfless dedication that go above and beyond the call of duty.”
A medic from McConnell Air Force Base, Smith now functions as a career advisor with the 22nd Force Support Squadron. In the past five years, he’s given medical care to over 500 members of both Joint Operations Task Forces and Air Force Special Operations Detachments, according to multiple media sources.
Much of the work Smith accomplished to earn the award was done as a subject matter expert liaison between the Air Force Special Operations Command and Baltimore Shock Trauma Center for the Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills program at the University of Maryland.
In addition, Smith worked with the Department of Defense to ensure more than 1,300 nurses, technicians and medical care providers received appropriate training.
In his acceptance speech, Smith said he was humbled to look back at past recipients of the award. He went on to say success in military medicine means practicing skills continuously and improving the craft.
We give a thumbs up to Smith for receiving this award and for all his work advancing military medicine.
Putting Patients at Risk
Arkansas state regulators stepped in this month to suspend paramedic Hudson Hallum from Crittendon (Ark.) EMS following an investigative report conducted by Eli Ross of localmemphis.com in West Memphis. The report alleged that Hallum’s probation officer, Michelle R. Sims, was worried he was using drugs.
A former Arkansas lawmaker, Hallum has been convicted of using “cheap vodka and free chicken dinners” to buy votes when he ran for office. Following his conviction, Sims was assigned to his case. Several failed drug tests, conducted as a part of Hallum’s probation report, indicated use of amphetamines and opiates. Co-owner of the company Tony Shubert said Hallum had prescriptions for the drugs he was taking.
An emergency order to inspect the company also revealed that Crittendon EMS, which Hallum co-owns, “was using the authority of a former, deceased medical director” to buy hydrocodone and other drugs, Ross reports. For this and other allegations, state regulators and agents from the DEA suspended the company’s ALS license in addition to the suspension of Hallum.
We are shocked Crittendon EMS put patients at risk by not taking steps to suspend Hallum and urge Crittendon EMS to ensure Hallum gets the in-patient drug treatment suggested by his probation officer.