Administration and Leadership, Cardiac & Resuscitation, News, Training

Boston EMS Honor Guard Shows Respect

Issue 5 and Volume 35.

On March 7, Bensalem (Pa.) Paramedic Daniel McIntosh died from a heart attack while chasing a patient with a history of mental problems. McIntosh was married with two small children.

The bonds within the EMS community run deep. Like a family, the best of EMS providers care about (and for) each other. So, as is common practice, agencies across Pennsylvania sent representatives to McIntosh’s funeral service. However, McIntosh’s home state wasn’t the only place where people were moved to attend. Boston EMS (BEMS) sent its Honor Guard to commemorate the fallen paramedic.

According to BEMS Honor Guard member Virginia Famalore, they try to attend any services within driving distance from Boston. Fortunately, there are few EMS line-of-duty deaths; but when they do occur, Boston EMS likes its honor guard to be at the funeral. “Sometimes [the deceased has] small children,” Famalore says. “If there is any way to make the horrific event a little better, we want support the service and families.” She believes the honor guard’s presence may be a comfort.

Thumbs Up to Boston EMS and its honor guard for providing a bit of solace and respect whenever and wherever they can.

A Shocking Start
Less than two weeks after 44 Bellevue, Wash., police patrol vehicles were equipped with automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), two officers were involved in a save on March 14.

Officer Brenda Johnson was inside a health-care facility when a woman ran in from the parking lot. She said her husband was having a heart attack. Johnson ran out to the car and found an unconscious man. “He was bleeding from his nose and ears and vomiting,” she said. “I was trying to get him out of the car, so we could deal with his aspirating the vomit. He was a large man, though.” The wife went back in to get medical help. Johnson made a radio call for assistance.

Officer Andrew Popochock arrived soon after hospital personnel helped extricate the man, and he started performing chest compressions. There had been a call for a crash cart, but it wasn’t there yet. Popochock said he had an AED in his car. Popochock retrieved his AED and administered two or three shocks before the crash cart arrived.

Johnson also says that since then she’s been close to two other incidents where she could have been called on to use the AED, if EMS hadn’t arrived so quickly. “I think this is going to be a good project.” So do we.

Dropped Calls
Bonnie Mason’s death has brought to light a critical flaw in the 999 emergency response system in England. Mason fell down the stairs and hit her head, but despite having life-threatening injuries, her call was allegedly not documented as such in the dispatch software. An ambulance didn’t come until 38 minutes after the call for help.

Used as it comes, as is done in the U.S. and other countries, the software categorizes falls of six feet with maximum urgency, triggering a Category A response time of eight minutes. However, according to a Sunday Telegraph investigation, when it was implemented in England, the country’s senior ambulance officials altered the program to manage 999 response demand, which caused some life-threatening calls to be automatically downgraded to Category B response.

The investigation found some EMS agency leaders recognized the risk. Of these, some allow operators to override the computer’s categorization, but others don’t. There will be an inquest in June to determine whether Mason’s death was caused by the delay in the receipt of care.

Good thing we have two hands. One Thumbs Down goes to the ambulance officials who modified dispatch software to systematically downgrade calls, and the other goes to agency leaders who knew of the flaw and failed to allow it to be overridden. 

One Standard to Rule Them All
In an effort to facilitate EMS employment relocation among Canadian provinces, the Canadian government is developing a single national standard and process for the qualification, assessment and certification of paramedics.

In 2008, amendments to the Agreement on Internal Trade ensured any worker certified in one province can be certified in any other, with exceptions for professions with additional requirements necessary for public health and safety.

Full labor mobility is seen as a benefit for workers because it would provide wider range of opportunities, as well as for employers, who would enjoy a broader selection of candidates.
The Alberta College of Paramedics  will get more than $1 million to work with Canadian regulatory authorities to develop the tools to allow paramedics to work anywhere within the country without additional training, examinations or assessments. JEMS