A New Level of Compassion
This month, a reader relates his fire agency’s commitment to service beyond what’s required, as written in the September Management Focus column “Compassion for a New Widow,” by Criss Brainard, EMT-P. Lastly, Facebook fans debate the resourcefulness of using helicopter transport for a patient and other points brought up in the October article “Fly or Drive? Will requesting a helicopter help your patient?” by Ryan Gerecht, MD, FACEP, CMTE; Keith Widmeier, NREMT-P, CCEMT-P, BA, and William Hinckley, MD, FACEP, CMTE.
Support Beyond the Call
What an excellent message for our troops. I am so blessed that the Redlands Fire Department really walks the walk you so effectively describe in your article.
Examples (Sorry, have to brag about them):
- An oil change the crew finished for a wife who couldn’t drive her car to follow her husband to the hospital. The patient had been halfway through a DIY oil change and the car was up on jacks. They finished it and got her rolling.
- The 29-year-old single mother with five kids—less than 10 years old—in a motel room. The mother and one of the kids were having an asthma attack. They could’ve simply pushed to transport and leave Child Protective Services to look out for the kids. The family’s medications were in a pharmacy 60 miles away. They provided immediate treatment, and then arranged the transfer of the medications to a local pharmacy. It was the holidays so they also went by the station and picked up some toys and gift cards from the annual toy drive, which they delivered with the filled prescriptions.
- The non-ambulatory shut-in whose primary caregiver was in the hospital. They found this poor gentleman covered in his own feces. They helped him out of his wheelchair and cleaned him up. After an evaluation that determined he didn’t need to be transported, they cleaned the wheelchair, the floor, the bed, and got his laundry going. They came back later that night to move the items to the dryer for him.
- The grocery store stock boy who was dejected because he had his bike stolen. The crew went back later and gave him one of their bikes—worth close to $1,000 when new.
- An elderly woman who had experienced a medical issue on the freeway and was anxious about her car being left there. The captain agreed to drive her car to the hospital. On the way, he noted it was low on gas and put in $20 worth to hold her over.
- The captain who went back to the home of a wheelchair-bound person to fabricate a wheelchair ramp using his own tools and materials, and on his own time.
- The engineer who, during the incident, asked the patient’s wife if she had a light bulb so he could change the light that was out in front of the home.
I could go on and on, but I am sure this is getting really dull. Thank you for your ongoing leadership in EMS. The SDFD and the overall emergency services are fortunate to have someone as good and dedicated as you among our ranks.
Jeff L. Frazier, fire chief
Redlands Fire Department
Facebook: Do you always side with calling in a helicopter?
Truth is, their use for scene responses is routinely abused and more often than not, unnecessary. I can’t speak to inter-facility transfers as that’s not my area of expertise. But, as a ground paramedic I would say that— having so many trauma centers here— the use of helicopter transports is mostly uncalled for as they’re typically within the 20–30 minute drive time via ambulance. Steven S.
As a veteran flight nurse, I all too often see helicopters used purely to avoid having to drive a patient to the hospital because of the distance and the fact that the county would be short a vehicle. HEMS is a treatment modality with very specific therapies it offers. It should only be used in those specific situations based on the medic’s thorough assessment of the patient. Andrew V.
I find rotor winged MedEvacs quite frustrating the majority of the time. So weather and environment sensitive, in addition to the radius they can cover being smaller because of fuel. Jessica T.
Until all land ambulance services have the same scope of practice as a flight service and the only difference is whether you drive or fly, there is more than one reason to call for HEMS. Ideally, land ambulance services (looking at a specific province in Canada in particular) would have a similar scope of practice to the HEMS service, so that the level of care provided would be similar.
Until that happens, HEMS is more than a quick flight to the hospital, it’s a chance for that patient to get access to true critical care and emergency medicine compared to protocols that need to change from the paradigm of “load n’ go, it’s someone else’s problem.” Braden P.
When you’re 45+ minutes from a small hospital and three hours from anything PCI/trauma capable, sometimes 15 minutes of waiting isn’t a bad thing! Of course, you start toward a facility and meet the bird (generally) just in case they have to cancel. A helicopter can be a very useful resource when used in the right situations! Samantha M.