2013-05-18 / Editorials & Letters

Saving runs trumps patient care

Editor:

This month, a Buckeye Lake resident called 9-1-1 on behalf of a family member experiencing convulsions and seizures. Our paramedic informed 9-1-1 that his crew was just leaving Licking Memorial Hospital and asked if anyone else in Buckeye Lake was responding. Told “no,” the paramedic advised 911 to start mutual aid from Hebron and they would meet them at the scene.

After a few minutes, the next radio traffic is BLFD Captain David Ruton cancelling mutual aid because he’s going as the first responder. Ruton (EMT Basic) and Assistant Fire Chief Rod Riley (volunteer firefighter but no medical certification) go to the scene. According to family members, they were asked to sign for treatment and a small clip was placed on the patient’s little finger. There was a lot of “hovering,” but not much else. Next was a shout out over the radio as Ruton called out to the crew returning from the hospital, “Where you at!” After stating their location, the paramedic asked about the patient’s condition. His answer was the incident address. When he repeated his question about the patient, the response was, “We’re okay here, just wondered your location.” Finally, nearly 16 minutes after the initial call for help, our paramedic was on the scene.

SIXTEEN MINUTES! The family asked me, “Why did they send these two older men who really didn’t do anything except wait for the real professionals to get here?” When the paramedic and the crew arrived, they acted swiftly getting the patient in the squad. They ran lights and siren to the hospital.

Our crew coming from the hospital arrived on scene as quickly as possible running lights and siren all the way from Newark. Does that make any sense when Hebron had a paramedic available two miles away?

Ruton is playing Russian Roulette with patients’ lives. I’m not being dramatic here folks....this is really happening to our residents. His operational policy is to SAVE THE RUN. Our EMS personnel have actually gotten berated because they called mutual aid! What about patient care? Have we forgotten the purpose of EMS service is to HELP the patient? Unfortunately, in Buckeye Lake that’s a YES! Council members and the mayor have been given numerous examples but they just keep making excuses and saying they are making improvements. Safety Chair Clay Carroll recently told me he realizes more improvements are needed. My reply was that it only takes one bad run to cause a death.

It’s been Ruton’s goal for some time to start EMS billing in Buckeye Lake. Monday night, council heard the first reading of an ordinance to do just that. EMS billing is commonplace now, but it should scare you to death in Buckeye Lake. Why? Ruton has been focused on saving runs (avoiding mutual aid) for months now. With EMS billing, he will now have a financial incentive to save runs. Calling mutual aid could cost the department $500 - $1,000. So patients will likely be waiting even longer for a second card holder to show up. Now try to get a good night’s sleep if you live in Buckeye Lake.

Peggy Wells
Buckeye Lake

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