2013-10-26 / Editorials & Letters

It’s not negativity, it’s incompetence

Buckeye Lake Village’s ruling clique has been doing quite a bit of whin- ing about negativity. The culprits, of course, are The Beacon and a handful of fearless letter writers. “The negatively has got to stop,” they whine. And then they step up their efforts to kill the messengers. Criticism is negativity in their little world.

Here’s the short answer: The criticism will stop when the problem is fixed. The Buckeye Lake Fire Department’s EMS service has been the problem for 434 days with the clock still running. We’re not much closer to Patients First care than we were back in August 2012. Sure more shifts are covered now, but that’s just the first step in providing service. Many shifts are covered by inexperienced EMT-Basics, sometimes supplemented by paramedics.

A quick review of the most recent time cards (Sept. 14 to 28 pay period) demonstrates that old habits die hard. In this two-week period, at least five employees either arrive late or leave early. This has been going on for years. And it will continue until both employees and managers are held accountable.

A fast scan of the most recent run data from www.lcounty/nipst (9/26 - 10/22/13) shows we’re still a long way from Patients First care. On two chest pain calls early this month, the squad was on the scene for 14:43 and 15:43 before transporting the patient to the hospital. Time is critical for heart problems, particularly since a paramedic is often not available on Buckeye Lake runs. It’s very doubtful that the patients were being stabilized by a paramedic. It’s much more likely that they were waiting for another crew member to arrive so they could meet the minimum legal requirements for transport and save the run for Buckeye Lake.

The only run on Oct. 9 was a back pain call on East Street at 2:37:50 p.m. It took the squad more than nine minutes to get there and then another 26:11 before taking the patient to the hospital. We also saw a number of nearly hourlong or more stays at the hospital. Of course, if the crew is hanging out at the hospital they can’t respond quickly should another call come in.

We could go on and on, and have many times over the last 434 days.

An EMS service has very specific duties. First, get a well-trained, ready-totransport crew to the scene as quickly as crew and public safety allow. Second, assess the patient promptly and prepare the patient for transport if hospital care is requested/warranted. Third, promptly and safely transport the patient to the hospital. EMT care, even paramedic care, is no substitute for the level of care available in a hospital emergency room. Finally, return promptly to quarters so the crew is locally available for another call. Transports to the hospital should NOT be an opportunity to meet with friends or family members, have a meal or run errands.

Unfortunately, the Buckeye Lake Fire Department has NOT mastered these basic standards. We don’t have Patients First care and won’t have it until there is a complete cultural change. Our ruling clique and some residents are still hung up on pride and control. Their objective is to keep the department no matter how many lives are put at risk.

Trust me, when you or a loved one needs emergency care you are only interested in the QUALITY of that care, not the name on the squad. Pride and control don’t save lives; timely quality care saves lives every hour.

Pride and control jeopardize lives: excessive on-scene waits for another crew member so we can keep the run: delays in requesting mutual aid so maybe we can save the run; and accepting substandard care so we can have our own department.

Safety Committee Chair and mayoral candidate Clay Carroll recently said that the calls we’ve “complained about, identified, targeted whatever, amounts to less than 10% of all those calls.” He proceeded to give the department a 90 – “A 90 is a pretty good score.” It might be ‘pretty good’ in school, but it’s a failing grade for EMS and many other tasks. Carroll is a manager for an electrical contractor. We’re confident his firm would consider a 90% score on electrical jobs a failing grade. They would soon be out of business if one out of every 10 jobs was not done correctly. That failure rate is even more unacceptable when your life is possibly at stake.

Calling for EMS help in Buckeye Lake Village should not be high stakes gambling. You could get excellent care if the right people are on duty. Most often you will get mediocre care. And 10-20 percent of the time you get poor care. Maybe nobody shows up like back in August 2012. More likely someone will show up, but you might have to wait for someone else to come so you can be transported. Maybe four people will show up like that night last May on Anchors Way and watch you writhe in pain and gasp for breath during a 38-minute wait to transport. That same crew could show up at your house; they are still on the department. Incidentally, no one took us up on our offer to publish without editing their side of that run.

The cultural change required to provide Patients First care is impossible given both the village’s and department’s leadership. The pride factor and ‘save the run’ mentality are not compatible with Patients First care. What’s best for the patient must be the first priority, not saving the run and the soon-to-be EMS billing revenue. The fire department should not be a private club or clique. It is a service provider. When it can’t or won’t provide consistent high quality service, it is time to get someone else. We reached that point months ago.

Rejecting the levy may sound extreme, but it is the only option at this point to get the service we deserve. Giving this crew five more years of guaranteed money rewards them for their incompetence and likely ensures that the very modest improvements will melt away. Vote “NO”for your safety!

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