Providers from Amity Township, Pa., have asked to move their station to a motel, claiming it would be safer than their current facility. The Southern Berks EMS providers say they’ve been working alongside such hazards as moldy showers, broken light fixtures and out-of-date fire extinguishers—not to mention a stink bug infestation. According to George Mang, executive director of Southern Berks EMS, the station was meant to be temporary; however, it’s been in use three years. We give a thumbs down to the administration of this department for not taking quicker action on this issue. An EMS station should be a clean, comfortable place—not a potential hazmat scene.
A Family Affair
John Gammon, engineer/paramedic from Santa Ana, Calif., and his son, Jordon, were on their way home from Jordon’s graduation when they saw a woman in her early 30s collapse about five feet away from them at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
When John reached the woman, she was in full arrest—with no pulse or respirations. Another passenger, a registered nurse, assisted in clearing the patient’s airway, while Jordon, 22, a volunteer firefighter and recently certified EMT, assisted. As the nurse performed compressions, John ran through the terminal seeking an AED, but was not able to find one. Jordon took over compressions while John searched. Moments later, another passenger showed up with one.
John says they started bystander CPR within about 30 seconds, and the patient was defibrillated within about three minutes. Another passenger, an emergency physician, used Jordon’s stethoscope to check lung sounds.
“I don’t think we even talked to each other. Standardized training meant we all knew what to do. We just did it. I can’t express what it meant to work with my son,” says John.
After bypass surgery, the patient is expected to make a full recovery. We congratulate this father-son duo, as well as the additional passengers who stepped up to save this woman’s life.
A dispatcher at Monroe County (Mich.) Central Dispatch made a decision that delayed EMS response and resulted in her losing her job.
Mail carrier Nancy Schafer stepped onto a concrete porch that collapsed, sending her down into a hole about 8' deep with a 500-pound concrete slab on top of her. She called a colleague, who then relayed the information to Gina Missler at the post office. Then Missler called 9-1-1. A transcript published in The Independent in Dundee reports the 9-1-1 call as follows:
Dispatcher: Do you know where she’s at exactly?
Missler: She said she thought it was 290 Midway.
Dispatcher: Have you had any kind of phone contact with her?
Missler: No, I’m going to go out there right now, and I’ll have my cell phone, and I can call back.
Dispatcher: Yeah, why don’t you give us a call back so we can have an exact location?
After 15 minutes and two more calls, EMS crews were dispatched. Schafer was declared dead about an hour later.
Whether an immediate dispatch could have made a difference is perhaps unanswerable. The issue is the dispatcher’s judgment. We cannot condone any delay in the dispatch of EMS to a potentially life-threatening incident, whether it comes from a first, second or third party. Hopefully, the follow-up investigation will result in new procedures to ensure this type of judgment is not allowed and resources are automatically dispatched in the future.
Steps Toward Justice
On May 21, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) made an arrest in connection with a post-game attack on Santa Cruz (Calif.) paramedic Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium.
A tip from a parole officer led to the arrest of Giovanni Ramirez, 31, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. However, his attorney says witnesses are ready to testify.
LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger says the investigation involved 20 full-time detectives who worked more than 6,000 hours. As of June 7, Stow remains in a medically induced coma at San Francisco General Hospital to prevent seizures after his transfer from Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. His family has also filed suit against the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Only time will tell if Ramirez is guilty, but JEMS applauds our law enforcement colleagues for devoting so much time and effort to this high-profile case. JEMS
This article originally appeared in July 2011 JEMS as “Last Word: The Ups & Downs of EMS.”