Friday, November 14, 2008


Protecting its citizens from harm is the noblest of government functions, the very core of a successful republic. Providing that protection is the purpose of organizing and maintaining our government. But who do we turn to when our fellow citizens turn against us?

A pregnant female with a toothache called 911 from a housing project at six AM. She had been up all night, unable to sleep. An advanced life support vehicle was sent to her home and took her to the emergency room. Innocent enough, one of hundreds of EMS calls fielded by the Providence Fire Department every day. Most rational persons would have a difficult time defining the majority of these calls “emergencies.” Had the Emergency Medical Technicians refused to transport her, instead of being commended for using common sense and reason, would be reprimanded for failing to address the needs of the patient. It matters not that an entire section of the city was left unprotected during the time this patient was transported; time when true emergencies could, and often do happen. The patient was catered to, no complaint filed, and the department’s goal of “covering your ass” was met.

Our EMS System is in chaos, patients are allowed to call and request transportation to the hospital for any reason whatsoever and an advanced life support vehicle will be sent, damn the cost to the taxpayer. Most responsible people wouldn’t dream of tying up a valuable resource because they needed a ride or wanted to get into the emergency room faster. Responsible citizens are being bullied by the minority who think government is at their beck and call.

Is this society’s problem? Is there a law that protects the rest of us from such unscrupulous drains on our resources? No, there is not. Perhaps it is time to consider the possibility. We pay for a service. That service is rendered useless when it is unavailable. The CYA policy is an insult to those providing EMS service, and those who founded this country and the generations who fought and died for our independence. The time has come for us to learn how to say no!

For years the 911 system has been overburdened with calls for non-emergency reasons. Because of fear of litigation anybody who calls for assistance for any reason will get help at their door within minutes; unless all resources are otherwise utilized. In that event, the people requesting transportation will have to wait a little longer. Some people die waiting, and that is the result of ineffective leadership. It happens. It could happen to any one of us.

In Providence, there is a severe shortage of advanced life support vehicles. Or is there? Six rescue units handle approximately thirty-thousand calls for emergency medical aid each year, and the number is growing. The need for additional resources is well known, and blatantly ignored by the Mayor’s office and the Fire Department administration. But is this crisis truly a crisis? Or is it merely the personification of a much larger problem plaguing our society, the insistence of many Americans to have government cater to their every whim? When will we have had enough, and simply say, NO MORE!

Because of the very real fear that a responsible person may not call for help in time of crisis we as a society are catering to an unscrupulous bunch who will exploit any option that is available. A mentality exists where government services represent an unlimited pie waiting be devoured, and only a fool would hesitate to get their piece. Our generosity can only be exploited if we allow it. We need to close the drain before the pool is empty! It is time for responsible citizens take our country back. As long as people are willing to give, the long line of takers begins to form. It is our nature to lend a helping hand to those truly in need. There is a limit. It is only natural to have the giving spirit replaced with bitterness.
Going along to get along is no longer an option. It is time to take a long, hard look at our policies and recognize that one of our greatest strengths, our generosity, is also our biggest weakness.


Epijunky said...

As a member of an ALS unit, I've taken a patient to the ER for a popped pimple. Which just blows my mind and simultaneously pisses me off to no end.

Meanwhile, my Mother had a massive MI and drove herself to the ER because she didn't want anyone fussing over her.

She survived, and so did the the popped pimple kid, but it still angers me.

Sorry, I'm babbling. I have a lot of anger issues I need to deal with. Clearly.

Michael Morse said...

No worries, EPI, I'm in a bit of a snit myself!

Christopher Mader said...

Seems we're all having a bad day.

Ambulance Mommy said...

One of the things I have been fairly lucky in is this type of call. Living in a semi-affluent suburban town (trust me, I live in the not so affluent side!), I would say about 80% of our calls are legitimate EMS calls.

Having 2 assisted living facilities, we do get the occasional random call in the middle of the night for something that could have waited until the doctor opens in the morning.

Our largest problem is the senior community with no one to talk to, no one to assist them, and so they call EMS for minor things, because they are scared.

I distinctly remember the call at 5:50 am, when my shift was over at 6, for the nosebleed. The woman had been up all night picking her nose, and it started to bleed. So she called 911. Sigh.

But thats about the worst we get...

We don't run into the waving the Medicare card much in our town, but I have heard stories on top of stories from my husband, who sees it constantly in the large city where he works. Some of his stories make me sick to my stomach....the broken fingernail gets transported while the cardiac arrest waits.

I'm sorry you guys had a bad day....I can empathize with your frustration.

What will it take to solve the crisis?

EMS Chick said...

I had a conversation with one of our local deputies today who is also a volunteer EMT. Our county now does fee for service, which seems to have slowed down the "BS" calls (at least repeat offenders) but about the time you start to think people have learned their lesson you get a call for a minor laceration to a guy's finger at 3am that looked like a paper cut.

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