Monday, September 14, 2015

A Drunk Run Weekend

AFD with assist of Agawam and Easthampton FD did 28 drunk runs over the weekend

A full 75% of the "emergency" ambulance runs generated by our institutes of higher education were alcohol induced, something that is easily preventable.

 Yes the town will be reimbursed by private insurance or the parents pocketbooks to the tune of around $1,000 per trip, so the college aged youth ETOH runs are probably downright lucrative.

Mullins Center Friday night

But the real problem with having so freakin' many drunk runs over the past weekend is they tie up our emergency personnel, who are all pretty darn good at what they do but not capable of being in two places at once.

 AFD on scene Mullins Center late Friday night

Thus an ambulance carting a drunk student to Cooley Dickinson Hospital is not availble to us when we call 911 for a friend or loved one who is suddenly having urgent need for medical attention.

The ambulance from another town that responds via "Mutual Aid" takes a lot longer than our own  coming from Central or North Station.

And when you can't breathe, every second counts.


Dr. Ed said...

First, the Mullins Center events are open to EVERYONE, not just UMass students. And I count the person outside the UMMB building, and arguably the person in the Rec Center as related to the Mullins Center event.

That's over half from an event that really has nothing to do with UMass.

Second, these ambulance runs are quite profitable -- and if the town is so badly mismanaged that it can't manage to buy enough ambulances to meet demand and hire enough guys to drive them -- to spend the revenue to continue providing the service like any well-run business would do -- then whose fault is that?

Third, if it weren't for the revenue from hauling drunken kids across the river, you wouldn't have the level of EMS that you have, not without spending a LOT more money...

Larry Kelley said...

In 2013 AFD did a total of 4,328 medical runs and only 422 (10%) were for "substance abuse."

So the other 90% provide the vast majority of revenues to the system.

The problem with ETOH runs is that they all cluster too close together.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed-

Yes, Mullins events are open to the public but let's not kid ourselves-most kids there are UMass kids.

Regardless, find me a concert at any venue that draws a young leaning crowd that doesn't have these issues. Basically every pop, rap, country etc. show has issues. And a dozen or so out of a few thousand isn't that bad at all.

And ultimately, we want kids to pack into Mullins when they have events. If they're not drinking there, they're spread out throughout town in large gatherings. 3,000 off the street is a good night for Amherst, UMass and the kids.

Dr. Ed said...

My point involves how the Mullins was privitized -- these concerts are essentially private enterprise that have no more to do with UMass than events in Fenway Park have anything to do with Boston University.

It's not like these concerts are being sponsored by student activities....

And two other things. First, the problem is that the kids CAN'T drink at the Mullin's Center so they have to "PreGame" -- they drink as much as they possibly can FIRST. That's why you have the ETOH issues.

Second, wouldn't it be nice, with all the money being spent and all, if the Student Affairs folks actually met the social needs of the UM students? Of those who don't identify themselves on the basis of race or sexual orientation?

Dr. Ed said...

Oh, and third -- it's fun to have someone pour paint onto you?!?!?

How many drugs were those kids ON?

Anonymous said...

Hi Larry,

Thank you for highlighting this issue, again.

-Could they have a lower grade vehicle (van) for transport when emergency is identified as ETOH?
-Have you, or others, had any productive conversations with the town on how to improve?


Larry Kelley said...

One common sense thing they could do is keep UMass Health Services open late on weekends when these ETOH storms are more likely to occur. That would cut down pretty dramatically on transportation time all the way over to CDH.

Anonymous said...

Larry - Your suggestion about UHS is a great one and I hope someone takes that up with UMass because Cooley ER is swamped already and short staffed into the night and early morning hours. I often wonder why UMass does not have its own Ambulance service and EMTs and/or contribute funding for Amherst to increase vehicles and EMTs based upon the proportionate number of students to the community. College students outnumber residences by how much? As a local, who respects and appreciates being in a collegiate town with all that brings, I get very frustrated at the tax exemptions and the significant impact on our community with public services. Please lead the way to solve this one Larry before it is one of our loved ones or friends. Best, JAB

Rene said...

To his credit, Larry's been talking about this issue for a long time. Perhaps others of us should also be talking about this in all the various town forums available to us. The more people who bring it us, the more likely it will become a topic that must be dealt with.

Dr. Ed said...

First, you can not have a lower grade transport vehicle due to liability, nor can you have ambulances deliver to Death Services (UHS) because -- pursuant to a Dukakis-era MA Law -- an ambulance can only transport to an emergency room. Emergency rooms must provide free care to the indigent. Even though it even had a fully-equipped operating room well into the 1990s, UHS didn't want to not be able to bill students so refused to be certified as an ER and hence isn't one.

Now the wild card here is the Bangs Center, which was built with trust money left for a "hospital" to be built in Amherst. HOSPITAL -- which never was.

The solution, of course, is to privatize the ambulance service like most places have.

Anonymous said...


Your post is partially correct. Liability is certainly a concern when it comes to using some sort of mobile drunk tank for transport. You are also correct when you say that AFD ambulances are prohib4by state statute from transporating to any location other than a licensed emergency room. The reason you gave for this is but one of many. Where your post goes astray is your assertion that "most places" have privatized thier ambulance services. In fact, the oposite is the case. The trend on a national level over the last 25 years has been toward fire based EMS systems. I'm not entirely sure how you define "most places" nor do I know what you're basing your statement on, but if you could present some information to support it I'd love to see it.

Jeff Parr