Major Incidents, News, Trauma

Joplin-Area Agencies Form Unique Partnership

Issue 7 and Volume 37.

True Partnership
Sharing an area with another agency could certainly mean squabbles and crossed wires if the two agencies involved don’t have a solid relationship in place. The partnership between private ambulance service Metro Emergency Transport (METS) in Joplin, Mo., and county agency Newton County (Mo.) Ambulance District (NCAD) is an example of quite the opposite.

When an area hospital was destroyed by a tornado in May 2008, METS was in desperate need of some help. So Rusty Tinney, NCAD director, came up with a plan to help the neighboring agency. Realizing his service had extra space at their station, Tinney offered METS an extra ambulance bay to house its ambulance and had two extra rooms constructed for their staff to use while METS waited for its new station to be built.

Tinney and his staff were a little nervous about how the crews would respond to the partnership, but he says he’s been pleasantly surprised with how well they work together. “The crews really like it because they can alternate calls. If one crew is out, then they just communicate with each other,” Tinney says. Tinney says operating two agencies out of the same station has been beneficial for many reasons.

“We work together, and it saves us money so we don’t have to cover the same area to fight on calls,” he says. “We just split them up, so there are three trucks total. If we get busy, then we cross over and back them up. It’s really a good partnership.”

When the 2011 Joplin tornado struck, the services’ already-strong bond was crucial, Tinney says. Because of shared protocols, space and medical equipment, the communication was outstanding, which was key amid such a crisis, he says.

Although METS will relocate to a new facility in a matter of months, the agencies are more than grateful for the time they’ve shared. We applaud Newton County Ambulance District for reaching out to METS in a time of need, and we commend both agencies’ flexibility and teamwork in making the most of what could have been a challenging situation. This partnership is a true example of what teamwork and quality EMS care are all about.

Bumpy Ride?
The ride inside a Gloucester (Mass.) Fire Ambulance in mid June while the ambulance was en route to Addison Gilbert Hospital was bumpy. Little did they know that it was their ambulance, and not the road, that was causing the bumps.

Even the patient, Neil Burns, was aware that something felt slightly off about the ride, according to a news report. The ambulance crew made it to the hospital. But moments after dropping off Burns, the wheels fell off their rig. The 1993 ambulance is the oldest in the fleet. But it seems human error and lack of oversight may have been the root cause of the wheel problem because the lug nuts weren’t tightened properly, according to a news report.

Luckily, no one was injured in this incident, but we chide Gloucester Fire for this close call. This was a dangerous condition that could have caused serious injuries (or worse) to the crew and patient and should send a loud wake-up call to the maintenance staff and crews checking their trucks.