Thursday, September 30, 2010

Councilman Stokes Is an Explosion In An Idiot Factory

Someone on Twitter, @RobRiscoe, asked my opinion on this fiasco:

The incident occurred in Jackson, Mississippi and there's been considerable hullabaloo in the EMS community regarding it. Normally I don't voice my opinion on things where the answer is as clear as this situation. But since I was asked...

As you can tell by the title of this article, Councilman Stokes has proved to the world that he knows absolutely nothing about the subject on which he has chosen to pontificate in hilarious ignorance.
"You got to take risks; you can't let citizens die!" In a backwards way, he is correct. The shooter and victim took their risks in whatever behavior preceded the shooting. The EMT's try not to let citizens die. But Councilman Stokes, I must ask you, had the EMT's arrived on an unsafe scene and gotten themselves shot and killed, then wouldn't there be two more citizens dead besides the first victim? We can continue this formula - then two more EMT's show up and get shot, and so on - until all the EMT's in the city are dead. You see, going into that scene and 'taking risks' might not be the best policy. As every EMT is aware, even scenes that are declared "safe" often remain very unstable and can go downhill to "extremely unsafe" in a heartbeat.

(Should we tell Councilman Stokes about what we do when that happens? Actually leave the scene?)

One of the solutions for this "problem" that Stokes has proposed is having the city go into the ambulance business themselves, rather than contracting with AMR. That's fine. No offense to AMR, but certainly few would have a problem with there actually being more ambulances in the city. Tell us, Mr. Stokes, where will you find the EMT's to staff your city ambulances? No doubt you wouldn't want those wimps from AMR to come over and work for you, with all their insistence on "scene safety" or whatever they call it.

Councilman, I have news for you. Your "problem" isn't with AMR. Every EMT in this country, to be certified as an EMT, has to go through an EMT course approved by the nation's Department of Transportation. And in every single one of those classes, the first lesson on day 1 is "Scene Safety." During that class, it is ingrained into the brains of every prospective EMT that you do NOT go into scenes that are not safe! If the scene becomes unsafe, leave! Every practical exercise that the EMT's will perform during class must include the question "Is my scene safe?" If they do not ask that question and determine scene safety, then no matter how magnificently they perform the practical exercise, they will fail. Every day from day one, scene safety will be burned into their brain.

That, Councilman Stokes, is the culture of the pool of EMT's from which you have to staff your nascent city ambulance service.

Perhaps Councilman Stokes would prefer if the class would go something like this: "Hello and welcome to EMT class. The first thing you should know is if you are called to a scene where gunshots are still going off or cars are still colliding with each other or gangs are stabbing each other all over the place, don't worry, just go right ahead in. Everything will be fine and unicorns and rainbows will sprout from your footsteps."

Really, Councilman Stokes? Would you actually want EMT's who were schooled to take such risks? If they are willing to "take risks" with their own personal safety, then what kind of risks will they take with the care they deliver to their patients? When you're in the back of that ambulance one day, maybe when the medic pulls out some big scary tube or needle to put into your body, will you want the EMT's to say "I've never done this procedure before, but I'm willing to take the risk!" Or maybe "You don't have to sterilize the site where you're going to stick in that needle/tube/scary device. It's a risk that he may die from a horrible infection, but we're willing to take it!"

As a casual aside, according to the news video, which I trust more than the "facts" of either Councilman Stokes' or the outraged mother-in-law of the victim, I notice that AMR is accused of taking 21 minutes to arrive at the patient. But then later in the video, the dispatch, en route, arrival and at-patient times add up to only 7 minutes and 25 seconds. This is well under the national average of 9 minutes. Did Stokes even bother to actually investigate the details of the call? Or is he just taking the word of some emotional, angry woman off the street?
Councilman Stokes, you are a fucking idiot.

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