2008-02-06 / Letters

Says EMS needs to take a second look at how it operates

Dear Editor:

I am writing you today concerning some of the things I have read in the paper about our fire departments, specifically, the station on Overbrook Drive. I don't remember who the man was who complained about the station not being occupied at all times by firefighters. However, after reading his story I starting thinking about where these guys might be during their working hours. So I guess you can see how one person's opinion on this can spread.

With all that being said, on Jan. 3 at about 2 a.m., I received a call from my mother stating she was worried about my father, who had been in his shop for several hours. She said she was unable to get in. After trying to calm her, I contacted my sister, who arrived a few minutes later to open the shop door.

My father was found inside unconscious and barely breathing. We called 9-1-1 and EMS and fire department personnel were dispatched. Within minutes and I do mean minutes, the fire truck arrived on scene. Keep in mind this is the same station the gentleman was complaining about. They removed my father from the shop and carried him into the house. It was obvious he had carbon monoxide poisoning and severe hypothermia. They administered oxygen and began to warm him until EMS could arrive. The crew that was on that fire truck played a very important role in saving my dad's life and for that I am forever grateful to them.

Now with that being said I would also like to thank part of the EMS crew that arrived. With myself being an EMT-B and my husband being a paramedic, their job did not go unnoticed. As most of you know if you have ever had to use our EMS system, when you call 9-1-1 an ambulance arrives and there are two certified people on that truck, certified being an EMT-B, EMT-1 and/or EMT-P. On a call such as my father's, the ambulance is dispatched as well as Medic 10, which is the supervisor for that shift. Each supervisor is certified as an EMT-P, Paramedic. This is the highest level of certification on our ambulances in our county. However what most of our community doesn't know is that if you are in need of extreme medical attention it has become customary for our ambulances to be staffed without a paramedic on them. On the night of my father's accident that was the case. Due to the nature of the call and the unit not having a paramedic on it, dispatch also sent Medic 10 for backup. When they left with my father, who was in critical condition, he left on a truck that did not have a paramedic on it.

What this means is if my father would have stopped breathing and his heart stopped, there wasn't anyone on that truck to put him on a monitor, shock him, or administer drugs to him that could possibly restart his heart. It is pathetic that the paramedic didn't think that my father's condition was bad enough for him to have to ride in back of the ambulance with him simply because he didn't want to type the report when they got back to headquarters.

I think Upstate Carolina needs to take another look at staffing their trucks with people who care about the patient they are called to assist. This is no way for a supervisor to show leadership to his fellow coworkers. I am thankful for the two other crew members who did care about my father and who did all that they could. Without them, my father may not be with me today. In conclusion, the fire department that has been slammed by people for not being at the station was there for my family within minutes to offer assistance. It was Upstate Carolina EMS leadership and management that needs a second look and not where the fire truck may be.

To the people involved, Bo Hudson and crew with the fire department, Billie Mckelevy and Mike Scruggs with EMS and Billy Bishop with 9-1-1 Dispatch, all the ER nurses and doctors and last but not least the flight crew with Regional One, I want to publicly thank you for all your efforts and a job well done.

I Thank You for your assistance that night as well as everyday you clock into work. Your skills and job did not go unnoticed. Linsey Martin Gaffney, SC

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