Administration and Leadership, Cardiac & Resuscitation, News, Trauma

The ups and downs of EMS

Issue 8 and Volume 35.

No More Multitasking
The results of the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (ROC) are out, and the authors are informing the public with the key message, “Stay on the chest.” Study co-author Ahamed Idris, MD, told WUSA TV 9 in Dallas that paramedics have historically interrupted chest compressions by moving the patient, inserting breathing tubes, applying AED shocks and starting IVs. But the focus is shifting to performing quick, consistent CPR within one to five minutes. Leaders of the National Institutes of Health-funded study say this focused approach saved 40 lives during the study in 2009.

Voluntary Leave
Imagine volunteering your time to keep your neighbors safe only to be fired from your job when your altruistic endeavors interfere with your paid gig. Well that might never happen in New York, which is set to become the ninth state in the nation (behind Ohio, Illinois and California, to name a few) to pass a law to prevent such terminations.

Introduced by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), A. 9856/S. 4988 requires employers in the heavily volunteer state to authorize absences from or lateness to work for firefighter or ambulance volunteers if it’s due to responding to an emergency. Passed by the New York Assembly and Senate, the bill will be delivered to Gov. David A. Paterson.

“Our local volunteers should not be punished for the admirable work they do, and they should not lose pay or fear losing their job because they volunteer to save other people’s lives,” says Thiele. “Volunteers are an integral and critical part of our communities, and we should provide them with this additional assurance that their day job is protected.”

We agree with these politicians, who recognize what it takes to ensure public safety and the unique needs of the volunteers who provide it.

Fatal Flaws
After facing complaints of slow response times, DeKalb County, Ga., has terminated its contract with Care Ambulance and is seeking a new EMS provider. Incorrect addresses led to the delay in two of the complaints, according to an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution; however, at least two others remain under investigation.

Care Ambulance Vice President Doug Tisdale said in the same article that he was shocked by the termination because of the company’s compliance to a DeKalb County fire chief’s recent request to add more ambulances—a request that came days after DeKalb opened an investigation into the service’s response to a 16-year-old who suffered a head injury while playing soccer. Records show the response took 22 minutes—four times the county’s average response time.

We think Care Ambulance officials’ failure to correct fatal flaws in dispatch and response procedures deserves a thumbs down.

Shining Star
In 2009, Southwest (Ariz.) Ambulance paramedic Francisco “Cisco” Preciado received the prestigious Star of Life award. However, Preciado gave up his award when he attended the funeral of his friend and former co-worker, Mark Vernick. The EMT was killed in a motorcycle collision on his way home from a shift in January. In a humble act of respect, Preciado placed the medal inside the casket of his fallen co-worker.

Preciado, of Casa Grande, Ariz., was one of three from the state to receive the 2009 Star of Life—a national award that recognizes the country’s most outstanding paramedics and EMTs. Unbeknownst to him, Southwest Ambulance requested the American Ambulance Association (AAA) give Preciado a replacement after Vernick’s funeral. AAA agreed, and Congressman Harry E. Mitchell (D-Arizona) presented Preciado with a second medal in June. This time, he kept it.

“I am humbled to be re-presenting Preciado with the Star of Life medal today,” said Mitchell in a press release. “His touching story of selfless action and friendship inspires all of us, and I know Southwest Ambulance, as well as myself, have a great deal of respect for him.”

Thumbs up to Cisco for reflecting the selfless spirit of EMS in this touching act. Your humility in remembering your co-worker’s service and valuing it above your own truly makes you a shining star. JEMS

This originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of JEMS as “Voluntary Leave.”