Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Still Work To Be Done

AFD on scene UMass Mullins Center for ETOH concert goer

The war on rowdy student behavior seems to have taken a major positive turn with UMass student off campus code of conduct violations down 63% from last year, and Amherst Police Department noise/nuisance tickets down 66%

Great news for sure, but the war on stupid behavior still has a ways to go.

The other equally important part of the equation is the drain on Emergency Medical Services brought on by "substance abuse" calls that needlessly tie up ambulances, and on occasion fire trucks that have to act as medical first responders.

A little over 9% of AFD's 4,478 emergency medical runs (410)  in 2014 were because of substance abuse, down ever so slightly from 2013 when almost 10% of 4,328 EMT runs (422) were due to drugs and/or alcohol abuse.

Naturally our institutes of higher education are outliers.   In 2013 UMass substance abuse runs came in at 27% of total (219 out of 848), Amherst College at 26% (39 out of 152) and Hampshire College at 24% (17 out of 71).

In 2014 UMass was down ever so slightly with substance abuse runs at 25% (202 of 808), Amherst College up a little at 27% (50 out of 184) and Hampshire College also up ever so slightly at 25% (19 out of 77).

In other words no improvement whatsoever. 

The problem with these preventable substance abuse cases is they all seem to come around the same time (late night/early morning on weekends) severely straining staffing levels at AFD.

Yes, even with additional money from UMass to put two extra ambulances in service (making 5 total) on weekends there were a few times in September when that was not enough.

The day will soon come when someone's life slips away while awaiting an out-of-town mutual aid ambulance to arrive.  That cost is incalculable.


Dr. Ed said...

When you realize that both the median and modal age in the Town of Amherst is something like 20 years old, and that young people have been abusing ETOH since Biblical times, I don't think that 9%-10% is that high a percentage.

Or in other words, AFD is doing a *lot* of runs for things other than substance abuse and perhaps that point needs to be made in what increasingly appears to be their legitimate claim to need additional funding.

And as to the higher percentages at the colleges -- which are still lower than I would have guessed them to be, remember what Willie Sutton said about banks.

Reality is that places where there is a concentration of people in their late teens and early 20s are going to have a higher proportion of substance abuse runs, much like places where there is a concentration of people in their late 20s and early 30s are going to have a higher proportion of childbirth and pediatric runs.

And you are not going to find a whole lot of either in a retirement community...

It has to do with something called "demographics" and if half the population of the community you serve is between the ages of 18 & 22, you are going to be dealing with the medical issues of that age cadre. Amherst is unique in that it all is within a defined municipality but there are neighborhoods in Boston that have as high (or higher) percentage of college students and I suspect that Boston EMS is dealing with substance abuse runs as well.

And as to "unnecessary" and "avoidable" -- we wouldn't have auto accidents if we banned autos, or required them to be designed so they couldn't travel faster than 4 MPH (as was once proposed).

There would be no children injured by falling off a horse if we didn't permit them to ride horses in the first place. There would be no sports injuries if we banned sports, no athletic injuries if we prevented people from doing anything athletic --- although (over time) there likely would be considerably more cardiac issues.

And on a more serious note, I wonder what percentage of the OTHER THAN substance abuse runs to the colleges are preventable?

Dr. Ed said...

As to the colleges and non ETOH injuries:

1: How many of the recreational sports injuries could be prevented with a little bit of athletic training & advice?

2: How much of the "stupid stuff", mostly in the dorms, wouldn't happen if very well paid dorm staff (RDs and ARDs) were (a) the type of persons whom young adults could approach & converse with in an non/threatening non/hostile manner, and (b) were actually IN the dorms -- in the parts of the dorms where the students are and not behind locked doors -- visible and available to their residents...

The part of the brain that deals with judgment doesn't mature until age 25 or so -- and when you don't have anyone that age present, some very stupid things (e.g "elevator surfing") can seem quite rational.

After 5PM (and all weekend) the only older person the average student has access to is a police officer -- and it isn't like the UMPD and the students have any affection for each other.

3: How many of the "illness" runs wouldn't have been necessary if the student had received proper medical attention 2-7 days earlier?

I call it "Death Services" for a reason -- the UMass infirmry -- UHS -- isn't easy to deal with in normal circumstances and not feeling well makes everything worse.

They really don't care about medicine, only social issues.

The truly jaw=dropping things involved situations where students asked me to advocate for them. I may only have been "scoop & run" but I was taught that certain things were not to be ignored.

You would not believe some of the things that students told me they could NOT get medical care for at UHS -- that Death Services couldn't be bothered to do even the most cursory of medical examinations.

In one case where I essentially bullied them into it, they scheduled surgery THAT DAY as it actually was a serious medical situation.

They just don't care. UMass as a whole just doesn't care -- students are considered to be an inexhaustible fungible resource to be exploited, en loco parentis to be a license to ignore the Constitutional rights.

My Point: If UMass considered En loco parentis to be the obligation that it actually is -- the parental duty to protect and look out for the "best interests of the child" -- even when that is not the best interest of the parent -- it would solve a lot of problems and not just the ETOH/drug ones.

I'm actually surprised that 90% of the ambulance runs are MOT ETOH/Drugs -- and that means that to the extent that the college runs are burdening the AFD, 90% of this burden is NOT ETOH/drugs.

Larry, 90% is essentially "all" -- and regardless of what we may think of the idiots that AFD has to haul to CDH for stomach pumping, statistically speaking 90% is essentially "all" -- I argue that *what* these college kids are going to the hospital for is relevant if you are to argue that taking them there burdens the AFD.

Anonymous said...

I want to know who on God's green earth is actually taking the precious time they have on this planet to read Ed's comments cover to cover.

I think we need to reach out to such a lonely person and offer our love and support.

Anonymous said...

This Ed guy is totally nuts. And obviously unemployed.

Anonymous said...

Your assertion that the "war on rowdy behavior" has taken a positive turn is completely incorrect. A better gauge to measure this type of behavior would be calls for service, which haven't declined. The cops are probably too overworked and understaffed to take the appropriate actions at these calls, or maybe they are just tired of all the BS with no end in sight.

Anonymous said...

Unsolicited advice to Mr. Ed: gotta be more concise. I usualy am entertained by your musings, but goddammit man, way too long.

Dr. Ed said...

The USAF have a saying -- "if they are shooting at you, it means that you are over the target."

UMass treats students badly -- very badly -- and yes, I'm passionate about making that known to all.

And one can (and does) find time for what one cares about. And there are times, like right now (with Yahoo down) that I wish I was unemployed....

And as to the posting above about number of calls for service -- maybe it's "Roadside Justice." It's often been stated that if the penalty for something is way in excess of what cops think it should be, they just won't write.

The cops take the action they consider appropriate -- which is to warn and not document.

Dr. Ed said...

"gotta be more concise."

OK. If 90% of the college ambulance runs are NOT ETOH/Drugs then ETOH/Drugs is statistically irrelevant in terms of the burden the colleges place on the ambulance service.

In other words, were you to *totally* eliminate ETOH/Drugs, you'd only have a 10% reduction in calls and AFD would still be way overburdened.

You gotta look at the 90%.

Oh, and, it's Dr. Ed -- I earned it, damn it!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ed, nobody is shooting at you. Its more like swatting at a fly or mosquito because its annoying as hell.

Anonymous said...

J/K with the talking horse reference. I beg your apartment. Keep musing. I enjoy your stuff.