20 of 12
In 2008, Tucson celebrated 20 years of transmitting 12-lead ECGs from ambulances to an emergency department. “We felt pretty good when the docs around town started yelling about the necessity of prehospital 12-leads,” says Terence Valenzuela, MD, medical director for the Tucson Fire Department. “We told them just to look in the fax machine.”
Talk about being ahead of the curve!
Lapses in Leadership
Denver Health EMS Operations Supervisor Robert Loop messed up: He let his paramedic certification lapse in March 2008. Then he made matters much, much worse: Instead of taking advantage of Colorado’s six-month grace period to bring in his paperwork, he allegedly created a false credential.
In early September, a Denver Health Paramedic Division training coordinator, routinely checking certification documents against the state database, reported the discrepancy to the state EMS office. “We opened an investigation and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the document had been tampered with,” says Colorado EMS Director Randy Kuykendall.
On Sept. 16, the state EMS office notified Mike Nugent, Denver Health’s Paramedic Division chief at the time and turned the case over to the state attorney general’s office.
Instead of firing Loop, Nugent simply reassigned him to a position in the dispatch center that didn’t require the credential. In October, Nugent left Denver Health to head the state’s Office of Traffic Safety, and Loop was terminated Oct. 29 after someone anonymously alerted Denver Health administrators to Loop’s status.
According to Kuykendall, Loop, who had been a Denver Health paramedic for 13 years, didn’t provide patient care during the six months he worked on the fake credential. Instead, he helped plan for the Democratic National Convention this past August.
When asked to comment, Denver Health provided a short list of facts and dates, plus a written statement saying, “Denver Health never knowingly allows uncertified paramedics, or any other uncertified or unlicensed health care professional, to care for patients.”
Denver Health wouldn’t comment on Loop’s and Nugent’s behavior. But we will: EMS officers should lead by example. What kind of example is this?!
Oh (Big) Brother!
Negotiations between AMR and its union stalled late October when a concealed camera and listening device were found in the conference room where talks were taking place. Jimmy Gambone, a union negotiator for National Emergency Medical Services Association, found the surveillance devices while checking a smoke detector at the regional AMR office in West Hartford, Conn. In a statement, AMR claimed it “has been concerned about some vandalism, theft and other inappropriate conduct that had been occurring on the property,” and that a well-intentioned supervisor “used an inexpensive video monitor to try to identify the culprits.” The union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint, calling this incident “a new low for AMR.”
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Where There’s a Will
Attorney Anthony Hayes was looking for a contribution he could make to the fire service after 9/11. He had worked at the World Trade Center before he went to law school, so he felt a special need to do something in response to the terrorist attacks.
When he asked a group of firefighters in Columbia, S.C., what a lawyer could do for them, most respondents said “handle speeding tickets” and “divorce.” But handling speeding tickets didn_t feel quite right, and each divorce called for specific details. He wanted to do something for a larger population. As he talked to the firefighters, he was surprised to learn how many of them had done no estate planning, including rudimentary wills.
An estimated 80-90% of first responders don’t have even simple wills, which is odd considering the dangers first responders encounter on the job. But Hayes’ organization is setting out to reduce that figure.
In business since January 2002, Wills for Heroes now provides free estate planning and will preparation for first responders and their spouses in 15 states. Several other states are still forming their programs. As part of the program, volunteer local attorneys provide individualized service to members of a requesting department. So far, more than 10,000 first responders have participated.
The Wills for Heroes Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization, oversees implementation of the program across the country. Each state program depends on local attorneys familiar with the state laws and regulations. The foundation has an exclusive agreement with LexisNexis to provide free HotDocs software and development services to bar associations participating in the Wills for Heroes program.
“This is the best program I’ve ever created,” says Hayes. “There’s lots of personal satisfaction.”
We applaud Hayes’ initiative in finding a way to contribute his skills and inspiring other attorneys across the country to offer a critical service to first responders. For more information, visit the foundation’s Web site at www.willsforheroes.org. JEMS