Chris Kaiser has an interesting post titled A Weighted Issue – The Fire Service Helping Private EMS. The post is his opinion as shared on Facebook regarding the JEMS article Illinois Fire Department Refuses To Lift 700 Lb. Patient.
Go ahead and read both the JEMS article and Chris’ post, I’ll wait…
You’re back! Great! So now, just in case you missed it, here is my comment on Chris’ post:
It’s definitely an interesting situation, but sadly it is hardly unique.
[/caption]While I think it’s great that this Fire Department is getting back to it’s traditional values of saving property and not helping people, I also find it interesting that there is no mention about what they would do if the patient was in the house and needed to get out. Would they refuse to remove him because he weighs 700 pounds? Would they call in for additional resources from another city, and would they then receive a bill from said city?
For that matter how many cats have been rescued from trees? Sure, maybe the 700 pound patient is not as cute or cuddly as a kitten, but how many non-emergent duties does a Fire Department perform on a daily basis that can place their members at risk for injury?
Having worked for a private company that transported a morbidly obese patient because the city service refused to do so, I can’t help but feel that this is just another example of poor service to a community. This department strikes me as a group who will cite job descriptions, emergent duties that may or may not exist, and union contract clauses instead of doing what needs to be done to make it happen for the citizen when it clearly was in their power to do so.
And of course… we’re not even mentioning what this has done to the patient and THAT is the true crime.
Edited to add: One thing that I do want to make clear though (because I realize I didn’t when I originally wrote the comment) is that the predicament the patient found themselves in is entirely the fault of the ambulance service. There is such a thing as courtesy and a simple phone call would have saved the patient what was undoubtedly and embarrassing and, dare I say it, torturous experience. It is very easy to blame those who stood by with their hands in their pockets but they don’t deserve ALL the blame. For that matter, I would through a “letter in the file” of the ambulance service and probably just give the fire department a verbal warning with a remediation session.
Do you think I was being too harsh in my criticism? I’m sure it may seem that way to some but the type of mentality displayed by the Springfield Fire Department will stop us from ever being able to have progress across all sectors and disciplines to overcome the supersized challenges that we are all facing today.
When I speak of these challenges I’m talking about more than morbidly obese patients. I’m talking about, and in no particular order:
- Manpower shortages
- Inter-operability limitations
- Lowered standards
- Talent retention
- Fiscal constraints
- Severe lack of public education
Allow me to be clear on one thing though, and that is ultimately the fault of the patient’s predicament lies squarely with the transporting agency Mercy Ambulance. A simple phone call could have prevented that unnecessary round trip. According to Chris the drive was probably around 4-5 hours. Obese or not, spending 8-10+ hours strapped down on a stretcher cannot be the most comfortable thing in the world.
Sure it’s easy in hindsight to criticize someone else, but it’s more important to use this opportunity to learn from their mistakes so that our own agencies don’t repeat them.