2013-04-06 / Editorials & Letters

Gambling with your life in Buckeye Lake

Opportunities to gamble range from new casinos to local internet cafes. But only in Buckeye Lake Village do you gamble with your life. No special equipment is needed. You don’t need to try hang gliding, car surfing or bull riding. No nerves of steel are required. All you have to do is to live or visit here.

No one knows when a medical emergency will strike. We do know that more than 600 times last year someone thought that EMERGENCY medical assistance was needed in Buckeye Lake Village. Some of the calls were minor even frivolous, but in most cases the callers believed EMERGENCY medical assistance was needed.

It’s now been nearly eight months since we began documenting the village’s dysfunctional EMS operation – unscheduled/uncovered shifts; paid employees arriving late, leaving early or not showing up at all; and one person crews wasting critical minutes waiting for another cardholder so they don’t have to ask for mutual aid.

Six weeks ago we complimented Mayor Rick Baker for his new-found commitment to patient care during a Feb. 14 meeting with Hebron officials about a possible contract for EMS services. Baker called the meeting ‘a good start’ and we agreed.

Unfortunately, that ‘good start’ hasn’t gotten out of first gear. For example, Hebron asked for some Buckeye Lake run data that would take an hour or so to put together. It wasn’t provided until weeks later, well into March. A public noticing mix-up scotched the scheduled Feb. 28 joint meeting. But a week later Arletta and Dave Ruton and council member Clay Carroll were surprise guests at a Hebron Safety Committee meeting. They left with some preliminary numbers for 24/7 coverage that were in the low $200,000’s. That’s affordable given that Buckeye Lake’s fire levy brings in about $225,000 a year and the fire fund carried over about $150,000 into 2013.

Those numbers should have been great news to anyone committed to patient care. No more unanswered EMS calls, critical waits for a second cardholder or to request mutual aid, or expecting EMT-Basics to treat critical patients. A paramedic, and often several, is always on duty at Hebron. Rather than spurring Buckeye Lake officials to reach an agreement with Hebron, ‘affordability’ prompted the department’s failed leadership to make new efforts to retain control – private meetings with some council members, a search for more part-timers and a couple of ‘new’ policies for show.

So has anything really changed? Does Buckeye Lake Village have a patient first commitment? Here’s a couple of recent runs; you decide.

• Last Thursday (March 28), Buckeye Lake was dispatched at 1:06:43 a.m. on a breathing problem call on Lynn Street in Maple Bay. One EMT-Basic was on duty. Remember it takes at least two EMT-Basis to legally transport a patient. It took the squad 10:13 minutes to arrive on the scene. The on-duty person was likely waiting to see if another cardholder showed up. The on-duty person then waited an ADDITIONAL 16:31 minutes BEFORE requesting mutual aid from Hebron. Buckeye Lake’s ‘Save-A-Run’ policy, first issued last December, requires a minimum wait of three minutes before requesting mutual aid, but sets NO maximum. Seven minutes, 43 seconds after being dispatched, Hebron leaves for the hospital with the patient after meeting the Buckeye Lake squad at Mill Dam and Hunt’s Landing roads.

• Later that same day, Buckeye Lake is dispatched at 12:23:32 p.m. on a stroke call on Wood Street. Only one of the two day shift positions was scheduled, but the lone EMT-Basic is on the scene in 3:00 minutes. He then waits an ADDITIONAL 26:51 minutes before requesting mutual aid from Hebron. A Hebron medic is picked up at Ohio 79 & US 40 in about two and a half minutes.

• On March 4, Buckeye Lake is dispatched at 4:34:00 a.m. on a abdominal pain call on Hebron Road. The scheduled paid EMT didn’t show up so no one is on duty. Buckeye Lake doesn’t respond. Seven minutes, 37 seconds later, Hebron is dispatched. Hebron arrives in 7:34 minutes and leaves for the hospital eight minutes later.

When you play a slot machine, fruits, diamonds, bells and hearts come up, determining whether you win or lose. When you gamble with your life by living or visiting Buckeye Lake Village, you never know what is going to happen when you call 9-1-1 for EMERGENCY medical help. This is REAL gambling.

Here are some possibilities:

• No one is on duty and no one responds. After seven minutes or so, Hebron or Millersport will be dispatched. Let’s hope that seven-minute delay doesn’t hurt you.

• One person is on duty (8 p.m. to 8 a.m.) or someone wasn’t scheduled/didn’t show up or arrived late/left early for one of the two day shifts. It could 10 minutes or so before anyone arrives and then ADDITIONAL 10-30 minutes before they decide no one else is going to show up and it’s OK to ask for mutual aid. You better hope that if you are having chest pain it is from indigestion and not a heart attack. If it’s the real deal, it’s likely game over for good.

• Two EMT-Basics arrive promptly. You’ve scored, particularly by Buckeye Lake standards, but hopefully you didn’t need advanced life support for a heart attack, stroke, respiratory arrest or serious injury.

• An EMT-Basic and a paramedic arrive promptly. You’ve beaten the odds and hit the jackpot!

You will hit the jackpot on every call if our village officials would put PATIENTS 1st and contract with Hebron for 24/7 EMS service. Imagine a paramedic trained in advance life support available for every run. No more long waits for another cardholder. No more unanswered calls. When you call, they roll!

Unfortunately, our village officials seem more committed to control and pride – we need our own department etc. – than your welfare. After eight long months, it’s time for them to make a clear choice in public. Is it PATIENTS 1st or local control and pride? Control and pride issues have caused the deaths of millions throughout history. We don’t need to add to that gruesome toll.

Monday night’s 7:30 p.m. council meeting is a good time to start asking each elected official to make their choice – PATIENTS 1st or control and pride?

They been hiding behind an advisory committee, then the Safety Committee and now a public forum five weeks in the future. NOTHING HAS CHANGED! You are still being forced to gamble with your life. You could be the next stroke victim forced to wait nearly 30 minutes for a crew that can treat you and get you to a hospital.

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