We haven’t written about the Buckeye Lake Fire Department since last November’s election. That’s when voters essentially killed the Patients First effort by narrowly renewing the department’s levy and electing Clay Carroll mayor by a handful of votes.
Promoting Carroll, who protected and defended the department’s leadership, to mayor sealed Patients First’s fate. His election and the levy renewal means that residents won’t be able to affect how the department is run for four long years.
The department is now spending money at a record pace and most shifts are covered by two cardholders. While that is obviously a critical first step, it does NOT ensure that residents and visitors are receiving the care and protection that most communities take for granted. The missing elements are 24/7 paramedic coverage, experience, training, management and a commitment to making patient care the top priority.
The same management team that failed to fill many shifts (30.1 percent in July 2012) and allowed part-time PAID employees to arrive late and/or leave early is still in place. It’s the same team that failed to respond to a critical injury on Dockside Drive on August 3, 2012. That incident triggered a 15-month long Beacon investigation including dozens of reports and editorials.
It’s also the same management team that allowed a crew in May 2013 to watch an Anchors Way resident writhe in pain and gasp for breath during a 38-minute wait to transport her to a hospital. Some crew members snickered during her suffering and the report was falsified to make it look like she was given some aid when none was provided. NO one was fired, suspended, demoted or otherwise publicly disciplined for these defining incidents or dozens of others well documented by public records.
Patient care won’t improve until the department’s management and culture are changed. Patient care must be the top priority, not saving runs for Buckeye Lake or maintaining control.
Two calls last Saturday afternoon (June 21) demonstrate that little has changed in nearly two years. Buckeye Lake was dispatched at 5:21:57 p.m. on a heart problems call at a Leisure Village home. About 90 seconds later (5:23:35 p.m.), a Buckeye Lake engine and medic along with a Hebron engine, were dispatched to a motorcycle accident on Myers Avenue. Buckeye Lake had NOT left the station on the heart problems call.
Based on the 9-1-1 Center’s call records, the next five to seven minutes were apparently marked by confusion and inaction. An experienced, properly managed and patient care oriented crew would have immediately asked for mutual aid to handle one of the calls. It wasn’t a tough call. The heart problems call came from the Millersport mutual aid area and the Buckeye Lake crew knew that Hebron had already been dispatched on the motorcycle accident. Instead, it was nearly nine very long minutes (8:49) before Millersport was dispatched to Leisure Village. They arrived very quickly (about three minutes), but 11 minutes had passed since the original dispatch. If ‘heart problems’ had turned out to be a major heart attack that 6-7 minute delay in treatment could have been the difference between life and death.
Hebron’s medic arrived at the motorcycle accident four seconds BEFORE Buckeye Lake. It took Buckeye Lake almost eight minutes to get to a Myers Avenue accident. It sounds unbelievable, but sadly it is not!
Residents and visitors will remain at risk until Carroll and council members change the department’s entire management team and commit to Patients First care. Don’t hold your breath!