Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Dangerous Indulgence

AFD on scene UMass Southwest area 2:15 a.m.

The first call came in at 1:59 AM, a routine as rain "still alarm" in a UMass high rise dorm.  Two minutes later it changed from routine to a full blown scramble as reports from UMPD indicated smoke in the building and an "orange glow" on the 14th floor causing a second call to all units, the dreaded "box alarm."

Almost instantly four fire engines and all available ambulances (two out of five) are converging on the scene.

 14th floor room where alarm originated (circled in red).  Beyond reach of Ladder trucks

Meanwhile just down Commonwealth Avenue, a river of students is converging on Kennedy dorm and the rest of the Southwest towers from a concert called, appropriately enough, "Code Black" that just let out at the Mullins Center.

The smoke , thankfully, turned out to be burnt popcorn.

 AFD packing up the hose

Even as all units were still making busy at the base of Kennedy tower two more calls came in for ETOH (intoxicated) students -- one at nearby John Quincy Adams tower and the other on the Amherst College campus.  

These, in addition to the half-dozen that had already occurred since midnight at the Mullins Center, all for intoxicated college aged youth.  Even though AFD Chief Tim Nelson had convinced facility management to have two ambulances (one from Easthampton and the other Belchertown) standing by as part of "Mullins Center Command" they were quickly overwhelmed by calls for service.

 AFD on scene Mullins Center 12:45 a.m.

At one point, around 12:45 a.m., two AFD ambulances were simultaneously tied up at the Mullins Center for intoxicated patrons.  In all the concert required 6 ambulance transports (one by Easthampton FD, 2 by Belchertown FD and 3 by AFD) as well as an additional 21 patients seen by paramedics on scene.

The alcohol induced drain on public safety also impacted police as both UMPD and APD assist AFD at the scene of all medical emergencies, even when it's simply substance abuse calls.

Oftentimes the calls to respond to an ETOH student included the addition information that the patient had fallen, resulting in a head laceration.

Eighteen months ago a young woman under the influence of alcohol fell while walking on Fearing Street, hitting her head on the unforgiving concrete curb, resulting in death. 

Last week my 12-year-old daughter fell from a horse resulting in a head and neck injury (which proved minor).  When my wife called 911, EMS was quick to arrive.  Late last night into early this morning, that vital lifesaving system was heavily taxed -- almost to the breaking point.

Mostly to preventable alcohol or drug related calls. 

Live Tweeting a disaster:

Indiegogo fundraiser for Amherst Record Digital News


Dr. Ed said...

Larry: "college aged male under influence of narcotics" is not what I would consider an ETOH run. Larry, you tweeted "narcotics."

Anybody with a scintilla of knowledge about emergency medicine, which includes (I hope) the entire APD/UMPD forces, is not going to confuse being under the influence of narcotics with being drunk.

Larry, you are being intellectually dishonest to define a narcotics-related ambulance run as being alcohol-related. It's like telling a pregnant woman that she's fat -- facts do matter...

Larry Kelley said...

Different call/run entirely (Happened at Campus Center, not Mullins Center).

This article focuses on Mullins Center concert, but I would guess there were more ETOH or "substance abuse" runs unrelated to Mullins during the weekend.

Sad to say.

I will get the AFD full report later this afternoon with all their weekend runs.

Dr. Ed said...

Point well taken.

I'm of the opinion that a good chunk of the "ETOH" transports are "ETOH & DRUGS" except that the alcohol can be smelled so it gets listed.

Larry, I've been told the mixtures that some of these kids have inside them and it is scary. Categories of drugs that should not be mixed with each other, let alone be washed down with Alcohol.

The drugs "are back." That scares me.

Anonymous said...

Larry... what is your proposed solution to the problem of weekend ETOH calls overwhelming the AFD? You address the issue often. You must have some ideas.

Anonymous said...

Wow, now popcorn is considered "A Dangerous Indulgence"? Keep chasin' those civil servants, numbnuts.

Walter Graff said...

More ambulances and a campus detox/medical center specifically equipped for drugs and alcohol, open 24/7 for the plethora of students who are OD'ing on anything they can get their hands on.

Dr. Ed said...

Walter, the problem is that an ambulance can not take anyone (student or otherwise) to Death Services (aka UM Health Services).

The reason for this is that UHS is neither considered a "hospital" nor an "emergency room" and there are a bunch of reasons why they don't want to be, mostly financial. The "charity care" rules, the prohibitions against "balance billing" and in general how they wouldn't be able to kick kids out of school for unpaid Death Services bills anymore.

Bernie Melby explained this to me once -- it was many years ago and I have forgotten most of the specifics, but the students would have rights they don't have now were they to be an ER -- which is the only place a 911-dispatched ambulance can take someone.

Anonymous said...

Thats not why they cant take there, Ed.