2013-08-17 / Editorials & Letters

It’s been 365 days!!!

The number on our cover is now 365. That means Buckeye Lake Village residents and visitors have been waiting 365 days (ONE WHOLE YEAR) for Patients 1st Emergency Medical Services.

It’s important to understand what Patients 1st means. It doesn’t mean having our own fire department or paying staff. Patients 1st is a 24/7/365 commitment that patient care is the No. 1 priority! Patients and their treatment/transport come first. It’s not complicated. Every decision and operating procedure is based on what’s best for the patient.

Patients 1st isn’t something The Beacon dreamed up. It isn’t controversial. Patients 1st is the guiding principle for most departments, but not in Buckeye Lake Village.

Patients come second or even later in Buckeye Lake Village. The commitment here is to save the fire department and control over it. That translates into saving runs and soon-to-be EMS billing revenue for Buckeye Lake. Saving patients is clearly secondary. The commitment to save our department means one-person crews routinely respond to emergency calls and treatment/transport is delayed while short crews wait for another cardholder to arrive. Sometimes they do, but precious minutes have already passed. Other times they don’t and a short crew finally and reluctantly requests mutual aid. Trying to save runs is not compatible with trying to save lives!

Some readers might contend that things are getting better – the department is making more runs and mutual aid requests are down; more people have been hired. Mutual aid runs are down and more people have been hired. However, neither one mean patient care is improving. More likely, a decline in mutual aid runs means treatment/transport is being delayed while waiting for another cardholder so they can save the run.

Mutual aid runs in Buckeye Lake Village are typically handled by the Hebron and Millersport Fire Departments. Both departments ALWAYS have at least one paramedic on duty while Buckeye Lake often struggles to have just two EMT-Basics respond. So a decline in mutual aid runs often means a longer wait/delay for a full Buckeye Lake crew AND an inability to provide advanced life support care (no paramedic). Heart and stroke patients are particularly at risk when a paramedic does not respond.

The department has hired more part-time EMT’s, but they are primarily EMT-Basics and have limited experience. More shifts are covered, but care still suffers due to the lack of experience and treatment limitations placed on EMT-Basics.

Our first report on the department’s dangerous deficiencies appeared one year ago. It was triggered by a very critical emergency call on a Friday afternoon. Two EMT’s were supposed to be on duty, but no one had been scheduled for the day shift. Our subsequent research learned that failure to schedule PAID staff and PAID staff no-shows, late arrivals and early clock-outs occurred frequently in Buckeye Lake.

Now let’s fast forward almost a year to another summer Friday – July 26. Once again NO one was on duty during the day shift (one EMT 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and one EMT 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.). The first paid EMT showed up at 7:35 p.m., 25 minutes early for the 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift. Thankfully, this time no one was critically injured nor had a major medical problem while no one was on duty. That wasn’t the case on August 3, 2012.

A sick person call in Buckeye Lake Estates did come in when no one was on duty. It took the squad almost eight minutes (7:51) to get there, some four to five minutes longer than if the station had been properly staffed. Luckily, that delay didn’t affect the patient, but the delay could have had disastrous consequences had it been a heart, stroke or non-breathing call.

Just this week we saw another example of how saving runs is more important than saving lives for the Buckeye Lake Fire Department. Monday morning, Buckeye Lake was dispatched to a carbon monoxide check/illness in Buckeye Lake Estates. About two minutes later, a heart problems call on Central Avenue comes in. Buckeye Lake responds to the first call, but waits more than five minutes (5:07) before asking for help on the heart problems call. Now the odds are better that Council President Charlene Hayden would endorse Peggy Wells for council than for Buckeye Lake getting out a full volunteer crew at 7:50 a.m. Nevertheless, Buckeye Lake waits more than five minutes to ask Hebron for help. A department and staff committed to Patients 1st would have immediately requested help from Hebron for the heart problems call. Every second counts when its your heart. This was clearly a serious emergency as Hebron took only a couple of minutes to load up the patient and head to the hospital.

You are still gambling with lives when you call 9-1-1 in Buckeye Lake Village. Claims that things are slowly getting better might be acceptable if funds were scarce and other options unavailable. But, that’s not the case.

Village officials have been sitting on a very attractive option from the Village of Hebron since April 12. For just $110,750 a year – some $50,000 less than what we are currently paying for our dysfunctional department – Hebron would IMMEDIATELY respond to all EMS and fire calls in Buckeye Lake Village. A paramedic would be available for every call. No more long on-scene waits to see if a volunteer responds; no more delays trying to save runs.

It is simply unconscionable that we are still waiting for Patients 1st Care a year later. Our wait will stretch to six years if voters approve the fire levy and elect Clay Carroll mayor. His priority is to save the department, not lives.

Return to top