Monday, October 24, 2011

Pushing our luck

Once again this past weekend we had the not uncommon situation where all four on-duty ambulances were simultaneously tied up, meaning none available to respond had you called with a real emergency late Friday night.

And what were those four emergencies? Well if you read my post this morning you should be able to guess, as that particular Party House was half the problem. Yes, all four ambulances were required to ferry four college students to the Cooley Dickinson Hospital due to ETOH, an overdose of alcohol.

That kind of avoidable, irresponsible behavior endangers the particular students themselves and the general public left waiting should they require immediate help.

AFD weekend statistics
And according to AFD Chief Tim Nelson, Thursday was hectic as well:

"I just compiled the stats from Thursday 10/20, 6pm to Friday 10/21 6pm. It breaks out like this:

UMASS – 6 Responses: 1 Fire Alarm; 5 EMS, one of which was an ETOH female.

Hampshire College – 2 Responses: 2 EMS, one of which was an ETOH male.

Town – 13 Responses: 11 EMS; 1 Fire Alarm; 1 Car into People’s United Bank.

During that 24 hour period we also requested station coverage 6 times due to all of our resources being committed to calls for service."

ETOH=Alcohol overdose


Anonymous said...

Pointing this out to the otherwise oblivious masses is a true public service.

On to the next shuddering insight: just how often in any given year does this happen?

LarryK4 said...

As of October 6th it was 42 times so far this fiscal year that started June 30.

Last year it happened a total of 78 times.

Anonymous said...

if we got a private ambulance contractor in the town with even just two ambulances, that would seem to help out a lot, and we wouldn't be out a lot of money as additional calls would goto another town anyways

Anonymous said...

I guess the good people of Amherst will have to learn not to require medical assistance on weekends or late at night...

Anonymous said...

so they should have been left to choke on their own puke? a lot of people have heart attacks due to poor diet....should we leave them to die as well due to their avoidable behavior?

even students who make mistakes deserve to be helped

Larry your witch hunt is getting old

LarryK4 said...

Actually Nitwit, I have a degree in Exercise Science and know well the dangers of over consumption of alcohol.

I never remotely suggested AFD should ignore ANYONE who has (voluntarily) taken in too much.

Anonymous said...

No one gets this. In the 1970's APD had about 20 cops. So did UMPD. They both are over 60 now. AFD never grew and UM and AC should hire private weekend coverage for this problem. My wife and daughter do not have ambulance coverage in B'town, because they are at UM on the weekends along with Noho, etc. Larry thanks,

Anonymous said...

I am sure Hadley would respond, or South Hadley (for South Amherst), or Belchertown for Amherst Woods area. Does Leverett or Pelham have an ambulance?

Anonymous said...

Amherst ambulance covers Hadley, Pelham, Leverett and Shutesbury

Taylor said...

Can the same anon who keeps lobbying for a private service please state his agenda? The town would lose money because its primary ems would now be the private service. That means about 33% of the town EMS revenue would be gone, as it would have to wait until the 3rd EMS call to use one of its own trucks to generate billing. How would the town make up for the lost $750,000? It would cut 14-15 firefighters. How does that make the town any safer? That is assuming that the town maintained a back up ems service. The most likely outcome would be the elimination of all town based ems service, a lay off of over 20 firefighter/paramedics, a decay in service and longer wait times for out of town coverage on an even more frequent basis. So please stop posting this nonsense about a private service. You obviously have very little understanding of the facts or if you do, you are just trying to further a personal agenda that has no support.

Taylor said...

This idea that someone else will respond is pointless. When you call an ambulance it means you need immediate help. 8 minutes or less response time is what should be happening. When you ask for another town's help it will take 20 minutes plus for the help to get to you. When you do it too often you are leaving other communities unprotected. The fact is UMASS, Amherst College, and Hampshire College are part of this community. It is our economic engine and they along with the town need to make a long overdue financial commitment to hiring more firefighter / paramedics for the AFD. Student behavior is not acceptable, but it is also not acceptable to risk their lives or another life by ignoring the obvious clear and present danger our community is facing by having the lowest number of firefighter per call volume in the state.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with a private ambulance service. They are out for one thing, money. You know what that means? The ambulances will be tied up at the nursiing homes all the time ... guaranteed revenue.
Also, check your sources. Amherst only has 40 cops .... hugely understaffed.

Anonymous said...

Umm....APD has 40-something cops while UMPS has 60+. The town has been skimping on both ADD & APD 4 years while crossing their fingers. Hell, its only our safety they gambling with!!.

Ed said...

Folks, facts matter.

Unlike the nursing homes (and Ann Whalen where the AFD goes with frequency), UMass pays 100% of the billed charges for runs involving UM students. Only the AFD gets this -- if a UM student gets hurt (or drunk) in Springfield, it is the same percentage payment that every other insurance company gives the AFD -- with "balance billing" prohibited.

So they are turning a tidy profit hauling all these UM students across the river for stomach pumping, and if they are running out of ambulances, that is mismanagement. It would be like Atkins running out of cider or donuts -- mismanagement.

Lets get real here -- when the AFD goes down to Southpoint and picks up a druggie, they aren't going to get paid at all. When Larry twists his knee and gets taken to the hospital, his insurance company pays maybe 60% of what the AFD bills. But when they take the UM kid in, they get the full 100%.

They are getting full reimbersement and can't maintain enough ambulances? POOR MANAGEMENT!!!!

LarryK4 said...

I guess it depends where you point the finger. The firefighters have argued for many years that they need more staff, but that is up to the Town Manager, Select Board and, gulp, Town Meeting.

Anonymous said...

Ed, that's not correct. Most of the students are covered by their parents insurance and that is who is billed.
And it is INSULTING to say AFD is mismanaged. Larry got it right, they have been asking for more staffing for years, and it isn't just the students that are causing them to be running short the population has grown. Studies have been done and ignored. The residents of this town need to be educated and make it a priority. The teachers got their contract pronto by raising a stink, dressing in black and chanting. Do our public safety workers, who are more than a year and a half into negotiations, have to do the same to get more staffing?

Anonymous said...

"The teachers got their contract pronto by raising a stink, dressing in black and chanting."

Yet another comment from someone on this blog who does not know what they are talking about.

Anonymous said...

The teachers settled? I did read a Hampster gazzette article but...what were the cola raise percentages? I know the FF's and cops have yet to settle. Hard to convince them that the town is in dire straights after the TM gets 9.8% and brags about a $1.1 million surplus. That plus the fact that they are both understaffed. Crosing their fingers indeed!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if the insurance of UMASS students pays 100% or not. I also do not know if the other reasons, as far as profit/operation costs/etc that Ed mentioned, would still be able to sustain a fire department that is properly staffed while functioning as an EMS as well.

That being said, I would like to hear why the poster of this comment believes this:

"And it is INSULTING to say AFD is mismanaged"

Did you do a survey of the employees who work there (at the Fire Department)...

I think that, for the most part, our firefighters are well trained, motivated, and extremely capable. I believe that they, for the most part, are striving to do their very best every day. They do the best they can with what they have.

But, I also believe that if you did do a survey, you would be rather surprised.

Good luck to them. They need it. And, so do we.

Anonymous said...

My personal agenda is this:
I want an ambulance if/when I call 911. I pay a lot of taxes to live in this town and that is my expectation.

Please don't forget that you also a personal agenda.

I think that there may be possible solutions to the problem out there that we won't hear from you (the firefighters union I presume).

Of course the union doesn't want private companies, you want more firefighters, more pay, more overtime, and a retirement. Of course the fire chief doesn't want private companies, he wants more firefighters and more trucks, more pay, and a retirement.

That doesn't mean that private companies are not an option. Maybe not the best option - but still an option.

It is all a big cost/benefit.

Perhaps you are right and only options are the ones presented by the union. Perhaps your agenda is truly my safety and not your job security, overtime, or retirement. And, if those are part of your agenda, fair enough, you have that right. I don't want to see people get fired but I do want to see the best possible solution for what we have to work with.

Anonymous said...

"Did you do a survey of the employees who work there (at the Fire Department)..."

Did you?
I have spoken to many, many of them for years and have constantly heard the complaint that they are understaffed, but never heard a complaint of mismanagement. The only problem/complaint seems to be a lack of desire from the town govt. to fund more on duty crew.

Anonymous said...

Are union grievances public records?