Thursday, May 01, 2014

Local News - "Ambulance Driver Drove Drunk"

The Philadelphia Inquirer published a story yesterday that is making the rounds on the EMS sites. The headline? "Lawsuit: Medic claims she was fired for reporting partner was drunk "

PHILADELPHIA — A paramedic has sued her former employer, who she claims canned her after she reported to city authorities that a colleague drove their ambulance while drunk.

Her supervisors eventually directed the pair to return to the office and ordered the driver to undergo a blood-alcohol test, which showed his blood alcohol level as 0.07 percent, according to the lawsuit. A driver is considered legally drunk in Pennsylvania at 0.08 percent. But Sakr contends in her lawsuit that her colleague's blood-alcohol test wasn't performed until four hours after she first alerted her bosses that he was drunk, giving him time to sober up.

The article goes on to say that the company then started harassing the "whistleblower" medic - denying vacation, changing shifts, etc.  Pretty serious accusations.

Now, for my take. First, an interest statement: I once worked for an EmStar predecessor, but haven't for over 10 years. I'm honestly somewhat surprised by these accusations. In my opinion, they aren't the BEST company in the Philadelphia private transport market - but they aren't the bottom of the barrel, either.

Second - In this case, it appears the crew was a Paramedic (the whistleblower) and an EMT - that's a standard ALS crew, especuially for transport. In that configuriation, it means the EMT's prime job is, in fact, driving. Please don't let the headline get you upset. It's technically correct.

What bothers me the most, is the comments on the article, espeically on the EMS social media pages, have more than a couple of EMS folks lining up against the medic in question. Folks are repeating the "What Happens on the Truck, Stays on the Truck." Guess what? That works for some things... An example? If my partner tells me she's pregnant - it's not my job to make a big deal about that to others, so long as she's still able to meet the required functions of the job.

This rises FAR above the level of something that should be ignored or covered up. I've seen too many drunk drivers that have either killed others or just killed themselves. PA has some very stringent rules relating to DUI and operating ambulances, as well. Long story short? Managment appears to have decided to ignore the safety of the crew, their apparatus, and the general public.

I think, based on the news story, that the medic did the best she could in that situation. It's something I hope I'll never have to deal with.