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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Good Samaritans Not Welcome in Philly?

With apologies to both Wyatt and Captain America, hoping this story isn't reflective of either service as a whole,...

I'm telling this story because its been eating at me since it occurred last Friday afternoon. At that time, one of my co-workers, a fellow supervisor we'll call "FCW" was returning from HUP (Univ of Penn's Hospital for non-Philadelphians) after demonstrating our new neo-natal ambulance to the HUP brass.

Stopping at an traffic light in West Philly, he observed a middle-aged man come to a stop in the intersection, gasp for breath, and promptly pass out in the street. FCW promptly pulled his well-marked company vehicle into a position in the intersection to protect the man, called 9-1-1, and began to tend to his injuries. FCW was helped, by the way, be several more-than-willing bystanders as he placed a neck collar on the patient, gave him oxygen and started to tend to a large laceration on his forehead and a probable broken nose.

A few moments later, a first responder engine, fire medic unit, and police patrol car arrived on the scene. You'd think they would thank FCW and assume care of this patient from him? NOPE!

The paramedic immediately began to question why FCW would stabilize the patient's neck (its a PA state Department of Health protocol to assume a neck injury when someone falls, BTW), why he would place the patient on "high-flow" oxygen (he had labored breathing and evidence of poor oxygenation in his blood) and in general questioned FCW's credentials as an EMT (he's been an active EMT-Basic for more than a decade).

It only gets worse! The medic then removed the oxygen mask from the patient and berated him to get up and WALK to the stretcher! Once accomplished, the same medic proceeded to take off the protective neck collar as well. Oh, BTW, her partner? He just stood around the stretcher with his hands in his pocket. You see, the Philadelphia Fire Department can't afford to staff each ambulance with TWO paramedics anymore. Instead, many are staffed with one paramedic and one firefighter-EMT (some with just two FF/EMTs) who is usually platooned to the medic truck against his or her will. Philly is a traditional town and firefighters should be fighting fires. I don't
debate that wisdom - I grew up with it.

Once loaded into the medic unit, they crew then proceeded not back towards HUP, but instead towards Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia (formerly Misericordia), which is a local community hospital (another questionable decision and probably another PA protocol violation).

The first responder engine crew? Well, they helped FCW put his first aid bag back together and mumbled some apologies about the treatment he just got. But it didn't end there,..

Remember at the beginning of this sick tale? FCW parked his vehicle IN THE INTERSECTION to protect someone lying in the street from being run over. Apparently, that wasn't good enough for the district patrol officer. As FCW was cleaning up the scene, the officer asked him to move his vehicle out of the intersection, berating him for blocking the intersection to begin with.

Today came the final insult: FCW was notified by the district desk sergeant that he'll be cited by mail for blocking the intersection!

And this is the Philadelphia that "loves you back?" I'm counting the days when I make settlement on my nice suburban home!!

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At 1:58 PM, Blogger Captain America said...

Ed please send me an E-mail. This behavior is unacceptable. We don't need these assclowns working for us as they really do make us look bad.

In a big city system like Philly where we have a crushing run volume (1,000) plus calls a day we may not always follow the protocol's to a "T". But there is no excuse for the treatment your people had to deal with. I suspect the engine company was uncomfortable with this situation as well.

I can't speak for the cop but I would also fight the ticket and file a complaint as well.

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Rogue Medic said...

I have had several occasions to stop (off duty )and assist prior to the arrival of PFD. They never gave me a hard time.

Going to Mercy should not be any kind of protocol violation. This does not appear to be a major trauma, but a trauma that happened because of an underlying medical condition.

While it is appropriate to ask "why the collar" and "why the oxygen," it should be done in a way that is trying to find out what is going on with the patient, not as a way of criticizing someone trying to help.

Besides, if they went around the corner to HUP, they might actually encounter their medical director. Wouldn't that be horrible?

The judge will probably throw the ticket out. It should not have been written. One would hope that police in Pennsylvania had learned their lesson with the fatality on the Uwchlan crash on the turnpike. State Police refused to shut down two lanes. A trailer came through, struck the ambulance, and pushed it a few hundred yards on its side. Surprisingly, only one EMT was killed.


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