Monday, February 13, 2012

Mullins Center Hogs AFD ambulances

This folks is unacceptable, completely unacceptable: All five AFD ambulances and ten of 11 firefighters--including all the extras brought in--were occupied carting drunks and druggies from the Mullins Center Rusko concert to the Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton on Friday night, meaning the entire town and our hilltown neighbors had EMT protection from another, more distant, department and Amherst had one crew of student volunteers for fire protection.

Besides the eight incapacitated folks transported to CDH, our EMTs also observed and then released another five patients (all alcohol related).

What more can I say? UNACCEPTABLE!

AFD weekend runs
Note almost all ETOH (alcohol) cases occur during time period University Health Services used to be open but is now closed.

Full Week Emergency Dispatch report (note times student force covered and mutual aid)

Springfield Republican covers UMass Health Services cutback Note spokesperson final quote about increasing demand on AFD ambulances, "It's too soon to tell." Not anymore Mr. Blaguszewski!


Uncommon Sense said...

It's time to let UMass EMS club make some money and help stave Amherst FD calls to the school. The school should hire them for such events and let them do the preliminary work! It's win-win-win. Students get to work, earn money, save the school money, and the time valuable call time.

Taylor said...

The Mullins Center does hire Umass EMS, but they have no ability to transport nor are they authorized to by the DPH. They also do not have the level of training necessary to start IV's, administer narcotics, or manage airways.

Also the dispatch report Larry posted makes no sense. It lists 91 Ambulance calls but only details 55. 29, 14, 5, 5, 2 adds up to 55, not 91.

Overall this was actually a fairly quiet weekend, the fact is though even on a summer day, Amherst Fire is not staffed adequately. Until the force has a minimum of at least 10 or 11 per shift the community will be under-protected and the members of the Select Board know this, but choose other funding priorities because they know town liability insurance will cover any suit brought against the town for the lack of adequate protection. A human life is cheaper to expense than hiring 8 more firefighter/paramedics.

Anonymous said...

Technically they are authorized to transport per their EMT certifications but they have no facility to do so (no wheels!). Umass would have to buy its own ambulances and supply and insure them and pretty sure that's not going to happen for the student EMS crew to use. Not to say they'd abuse it, just a lot of money for a small group. What Mullins should do is contract out to AMR or Am-B-Care or another local EMS Operation and get them to do it. Amherst/Hadley should get them to do it. Isn't Mullins half in Hadley anyway? And aren't we also tying up their EMS Response with these events? Larry, go rabble-rouse them in on this too!

Ed said...

Larry, something needs to be done about the abuse of the ETOH tag. You will note that several of these runs listed ETOH/something else and the sad fact is that (likely) ALL of them were.

I am not criticizing the guys in the field who smell booze, don't want to get sued, and have to put something down. Fine -- write ETOH and roll.

But drugs are a bigger issue than alcohol at UMass, and then the kids that go to Mullen's events are not always um students.

We need to be accurate in this -- it isn't Bud Lite that is tying up the ambulance. It really isn;t...

Anonymous said...

No,Ed, something needs to be done about the abuse of alcohol. They know ETOH when they see it and are told by the patients buddies how many shots they did. They can guess at what drugs were also done but that doesn't change the fact the kids in danger of alcohol poisoning.

Anonymous said...

The ambulance calls report need to be clarifed-
When you see "2 amb, 3 amb, 4 amb etc" that means multiple ambulances out simultaneously.
So 29 times there was 1 amb out at a time, 14 times 2 out at the same time etc, which with 2 paramedics per ambulance, when you have 4 amb out, that ties up 8 of the on duty staff. So if you add them up, it actually is 92 amb runs, and they could be some variances as to why 91 is reported as opposed to 92..(maybe extra manpower at a call etc)
Hope that this helps.

Ed said...

I still say that EVERYONE would benefit from something resembling accuracy -- and a firefigher is not qualified to tell if the medical issue is alcohol or drugs.

No, you aren't. Nor, unless you are doing BAC sampling, do you really know -- no matter what you may be told. (Would you trust the buddies on anything else?)

I propose the following:

From now to the end of the semester -- 10 weekends or so -- the AFT puts an extra sheet or tag or whatever on the chart (toe, whaever) of every "ETOH" transport.

CDH does three things (other than treat) -- they check yes/no for UM student. They list the BAC (which THEY will have from bloodwork), and they list any other drugs they found at any level.

And they put these in a big box and then tabulate the statistics at the end of the semester. and publish them.

If I am wrong then I am wrong -- but I am not. These kids are using alcohol to wash down the drugs. Both drug use and problems downtown have gone up expedentially as alcohol has been cracked down on in the dorms...

Facts matter -- and we don't HAVE the facts right now...

Anonymous said...

1. Why are we arguing about drugs vs alcohol? The point is, substance abuse by students is taxing the system. The average person is surprised to learn how little of a problem hardcore drugs actually are in this town. Alcohol is cheap, easy, and readily available. Still, substance abuse is substance abuse so let's not argue about semantics.

2. Firefighters may not be qualified to distinguish medical issues from drugs or alcohol but Paramedics ARE. Believe it or not, Paramedics have a considerable amount of medical training. Hopefully you'll appreciate that when they're calculating the right dose for whichever drug might save your life some day.

3. Hadley does not have EMS. Amherst provides EMS service for the town of Hadley. Perhaps I read Anonymous' comment wrong.

4. The UMass EMS team is good for what it is: a first responder service. Giving an ambulance to a group of new, 18-year old EMTs with no experience seems like a giant liability. Let them continue to assist at events, learn, and be introduced to EMS in a safe environment... with a professional EMS service getting involved for transport or when appropriate.

Ed said...

Why are we arguing about drugs vs alcohol?

Why do you not use water on an electrical fire? It is the same thing here -- and people are still stuck in the '80s.

The average person is surprised to learn how little of a problem hardcore drugs actually are in this town.

Been down to South Amherst lately?

No, prevention and detection of alcohol abuse will NOT help with other stuff. Seriously.

Paramedics have a considerable amount of medical training.

Which has taught them medical protocols which are identical for both ETOH and many other drugs. This is a point that is being overlooked or obscurred -- you neither need to know nor care in many cases WHAT the little darling has ingested, as the treatment will be the same.

Even in the hospital, excepting where specific things (eg Narcan) are involved, it is a case of activated charcol and/or stomach pumping, and supportive care to maintain vitals. I know there is a UM professor working on an anti-intoxicated drug but we don't have that yet, do we? Am I not right -- and does it really matter if Alcohol is the ONLY thing in the kid?

And Paramedics don't drink themselves. That is my point == the hypocritical picture of the AFD/APD/UMPD being these noble "walk on water" people and the UM students being knuckle dragging derelicts. Right....

This is where I usually ask what is the capacity of the Amherst PD jail -- have never gotten the same answer twice -- and then ask the respondent to subtract that from the number of studens at UM. the answer usually makes my point....

BTW: I strongly suspect the APD uses jail cells for evidence storage, which isn't a bad idea with the 24 hour surveillance and the recorded video and the rest, which is why I keep getting different numbers -- but still, it is under 50, there are probably, all told, 30,000 college students in town, that means that there are 25,950 whom you haven't arrested.....

Anonymous said...

You sir... are a moron.

Anonymous said...

To address the issue of UMass EMS: The student EMS group has worked and continues to work very hard to establish a system in which they will respond to EMS calls around the UMass campus, stabilizing the patient/victim/what-have-you, thus allowing AFD to take care of the town and more serious calls before coming to pick up the drunks. Unfortunately they have been turned down and run into tons of roadblocks along the way. The reason they cannot get their own ambulance is because they currently function under the First Responder level, although they are all trained as EMT-Basics or higher. In order to get an ambulance they would have to operate as a BLS Class-V ambulance for about 5 years while they await approval, which is a lot of work for the school and group, as well as a serious time and financial commitment. But it is something they will probably address in the next 10-15 years.

On another note, to say giving these EMTs an ambulance is a risk is a terrible insult to the intelligence, maturity, and capabilities of the UMass EMS EMTs. Some of the EMTs actually work for ambulance companies and fire departments in their home towns and actually have YEARS of experience behind them. Also, you would be amazed at how much experience these kids get simply from staffing events at Mullins and so forth (also addressing the point about UMass EMS starting to cover the Mullins, they already do and AFD is PAID OVERTIME to stand by with an ambulance or two). If these student EMTs responded to your own medical call you would never know they were students at all. Also, the EMT class taught at UMass is one of the top classes in the Commonwealth, so even the new EMTs are trained to the highest standards.