bloojoon (bloojoon) wrote in onlineambulance,
bloojoon
bloojoon
onlineambulance

Saving Lives

My sister just texted me the following: If you weren’t on duty and there was an accident of some kind and someone was badly hurt, you’d still try to help that person, right? I only ask because there was this news story of a woman who died and there were two emts that stood by and basically just watched all that went on because they were on break.

My response: It’s easy to watch a news story and get taken in by the spin. I know this sounds outrageous, but this was not presented with the right perspective. People die. It just happens. The EMTs didn’t cause the accident; it’s not their fault she died. It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. Would I have helped? Maybe. I don’t know the circumstances. To literally be standing in one’s uniform, taking a smoke break as a car crashes a foot to your left and ignore the injured inside seems completely unlikely. Is it possible they weren’t as close to the accident as the news claims? Yes. Is it possible they had no gloves, no gear and were afraid to be personally injured, diseased, or sued? Yes. Is it possible they could not access the patient? Yes. Is it possible they weren’t aware the patient was severely injured or expected the dispatched unit to respond quickly or were, in fact, requesting a unit on the radio as the patient died? Yes, yes, and yes. Are there innumerable other possibilities? Absolutely. I don’t know if they made the “right” choice or not; I don’t know if I would’ve made the same decision, but I do feel that they were perfectly within their rights. In any case, as the Beatles said, there’s no one you can save that can’t be saved.
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I heard the story second hand and I am sure it passed through many hands before that...but it was told as a person 7 months pregnant siezing in the cafeteria that the 2 911 dispatchers (EMTs in uniform) were eating at...and when asked to help they said to call 911.

Yes some places you can get away with not treating (would I mouth to mouth a stranger w/out a barrier...wow, not sure!) But if in uniform...how can you say no when asked to help? Not everyplace hasa duty to act thing...and sometimes you do have a choice not to respond...sometimes you don't.
I only know what she told me, which...was basically nothing. As I said, I don't necessarily blame them and I wouldn't necessarily have made the same decision they made. The fact that they were dispatchers raises a new point: the dispatchers I know would not be comfortable personally/physically assisting someone in an emergency.
If they were just dispatchers yes...but they were both emts in uniform.
here in my area the dispacter uniform is the same style as my EMTS, the only difference between emt, fire, and dispacter is shirt color
Yeah, I got that part. I'm saying: have you ever trained a basic first day on the job? Their jaws drop open and they have no idea what to do, no matter how good their class was. The dispatchers are used to letting someone else handle things; they may not have given it a second thought.
Also, what on earth are you gonna do for a seizing pregnant lady anyways? Do they have benzos and hydralazine and mag sulfate to treat eclampsia in their pocket while they're eating lunch? doubtful....

Deleted comment

I hadn't seen it myself on the news, but it sounds like you and I are on the same page. Thanks for being more eloquent than I am. :-)
From what I read about that incident in JEMS among other places, those EMT's were in the wrong. I understand they were in uniform and refused to help, or even provide comfort care (In Colorado at least, that's grounds for abandonment - they were in uniform, they had a duty to act weather they were on break or not) - It sounds like the lady was eclamptic, seized and then died instantly.

If it were me, at the very very least I would have ran out, gotten the bags, and made it look like I was doing something. That's really all people wanted/expect. To make it look like you care, even if you don't... If you don't, take a vacation, or get a new profession.

See? That's another thing entirely. As an EMT-B with no equipment, ostensibly no ambulance, etc...what am I going to do for an eclamptic woman having a seizure? Call 911, maybe try to keep her head from whacking the ground...
I'm sorry, but even when I'm not in uniform, if I see something is wrong, or somebody needs help, I help. Uniform, no uniform, it doesn't matter. I'm an EMT. Helping people is my job. What kind of an EMT just sits by and does nothing while a woman is seizing? Even if they couldn't do anything, at least make it seem like you're trying...I agree with other comments posted--if you can't make it seem like you care, you need to find a new career, cause EMS is not where you belong.
I couldn't agree with you more, and I think you worded it beautifully.

When I first heard this news story I was astounded, but after a moments pause I remembered just how much the media loves to sensationalize events to make them more gripping.

I also feel that most people outside of the EMS system don't realize we have to operate under specific protocols, and practices. We cannot just rush in and miraculously save a life...

It seems like a "damned if you do, and damned if you don't" situation to me, I just hope that all of the media attention doesn't have an influence on the investigation, and the fate of these two EMT's careers.
If you're in uniform, then you are representing your service and your profession, whether you are on duty or not. If you don't wish to be in this position, then remove the identifying insignias or clothing items. Otherwise, you must be prepared for the possibility that you may be called for assistance should a medical emergency occur in your presence.

This happened to me once on my way home one morning. I made a quick stop to pick up something at the vet, and as I was getting into my car I was flagged down by a hysterical bystander screaming that a pedestrian had just been hit by a car half a block away. I didn't have any equipment, but I was wearing my uniform. As I saw it, I had little choice. The guy ended up being ok so all I ended up doing was interviewing him while I checked with dispatch to make sure a unit was coming. If things had been worse, I could have started CPR. And so could have those two EMTs.

There's a moral, and certainly an ethical, issue here. Personally, I wouldn't want it on my conscience that I declined assistance to someone in serious distress after I'd been asked to help. I also don't ever wish to be involved in headlines like these EMTs and FDNY are being associated with right now, either. We have an image to uphold. Let's remember this.
I feel like you didn't even read what I or anyone else posted. I don't think we really have any idea what happened there.
Of course I read what everyone posted. Perhaps I came across as unclear.

You're right, none of us knows what really happened except the two EMTs that were there. I really hope that this is just another hype headline, believe me. There are, however, a few things that have been reported in several articles about this situation that really do not sit right with me and cause me to question the actions of the medics. I honestly hope that a sensible explanation is issued and that these two are exonerated.