Showing posts with label EMS News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EMS News. Show all posts

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Philly Fire at Level Zero

Philadelphia Daily News has an inflammatory headline today: In case of emergency, say a prayer? Sad part - It's spot on. Getting EMS care in Philadelphia is as much luck as it is anything else. It's a finite resource that has long been neglected.
Tuesday brought seasonally expected high temperatures, and with that, predictable high EMS call volumes. That’s NOT a surprise to anyone who follows the saga of PFD*EMS. Add in a small-scale disaster, such as the food truck explosion that happened Tuesday afternoon, and the system went back to Level Zero. And was there a couple other times during the day.

Level Zero is a term in the EMS industry. It means the City has ZERO available transport EMS resources – everything is committed (on calls, at hospitals, cleaning up, completing post-run paperwork, restocking, or out of service for training).

Here’s the thing. Even when Philly DOES have EMS units available… they may not be in every neighborhood. On busy days, it’s routine to see ambulances leapfrog across the city, getting sent on 20 or 30 minute responses as soon as they clear a hospital. Is there really a difference if it takes 10 minutes to dispatch an ambulance that’s coming from 20 minutes away, or if an ambulance from 30 minutes away is dispatched without a delay? Other than the statement of “no medic available” on the radio? The scene gets the closest available suppression apparatus, and they wait for an ambulance.

It’s common in major cities to supplement municipal EMS resources with mutual aid providers. In some towns, that consists of agreements with adjoining towns to help provide coverage for normal flows of service. In other towns, that involves a public-private partnership where ambulances that are primarily used for non-emergent transport are used to supplement the 911 system. Some areas do this more frequently than others, but it’s a common solution.

Philadelphia doesn’t seem to know how to call for help. They have a procedure where quite a few agencies have radios mounted in ALS ambulances that can communicate with PFD’s dispatch so that these units can be used in a disaster. These radios are used in the annual airport drill, and regularly tested, and that’s the end of it.

Philadelphia invested money in the system, and unveiled it 4years ago. Yet, to my knowledge, it has never been used for an actual event. Especially these occasional surge events that happen EVERY SINGLE SUMMER. These surges happen in extremely hot weather, and also on warm summer evenings when the city's "knife and gun club" starts up, and fills the hospital trauma bays with battered and bleeding individuals.

Philly is planning to “fix” their EMS system by hiring a whole bunch of EMS-only EMT’s to ride ambulances, paired with Paramedics, allowing them to return to a all-ALS deployment with more units. That’s the stated goal, anyway. That isn’t going to happen overnight, though. The City should use the resources it has available to cover it’s requirement to provide EMS until PFD*EMS is on a better footing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I finally got to watch the first two episodes of Sirens today (I’d already seen the sneak preview episode, which will air this Thursday). I like it. I think there’s perhaps a little too much focus on bathroom humor… but aside from that, it’s the most accurate a depiction of #MyEMSDay in television I've seen since Emergency!

The characters, thus far, are the clear win. They remind me of people I've worked with. The conversations with each other and practical jokes are akin to things I’ve seen or done in my years in EMS. The personal issues regarding relationships are something I’ve seen many times, and the relationship between partners seems to be accurately depicted.

The nicknames are a nice touch, and something VERY common within Emergency Services. Many newbies acquire nicknames. Sometimes you get to grow out of them, sometimes you don’t. I’ve seen several places where active members don’t know someone’s real or full name, because they only ever refer to that person by a nickname or their last name. Some of the nicknames are based on something in particular, and in other cases, they are assigned seemingly at random. “Why Pedro? Because there were already two John’s”.

I have 2 issues with the show. One is professionalism, and the other is the actual medical care.

Professionalism: Making fun of a patient’s disability - like temporary deafness, isn't funny. I think the show can have just as much fun, while ALSO highlighting the professionalism of the providers and their patient care. On the flipside, I recognize that a 20-minute show doesn't provide a lot of time to showcase both patient care AND witty dialogue, but I hope the show’s writers can find a way.

As for the actual medical treatment: It seems overly dramatic at times, and they seem to not spend so much time focusing on standard treatment. Guess what… it’s TV, not real life. Further, this isn't the first show to have that problem - ER, House, and even Scrubs often focused on “zebra” diagnoses over standard treatment. My biggest gripe is that

I also have a question - What is the level of provider? Are they EMT-Basics? Paramedics? It would be a great opportunity to highlight the different levels of training, and the fact that the more advanced prehospital providers have 1.5-2 years of schooling, if not a college degree.

Anyway - Thus far, I think Sirens has potential. If you can get past the “TV Medical” issues inherent in every show, it’s worth a watch. Further, I think the characters are solid, and there is a FUTURE in this show.

Anyway - Catch up, and watch the next episode Thursday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trying to Get a Leg Up

 While I’ve met a LOT of cool Fire and EMS bloggers (and know quite a few LEO and Firearms bloggers), I’ve got a new favorite blog. Sorry, it’s not my buddy Chris at LUTL (my old favorite)… It is a new addition to the blogosphere: Joe Riffe over at Prosthetic Medic (

Joe’s got a pretty heartbreaking story… He’s a paramedic with Louisville Metro EMS. He was hiking one day, slipped and fell into a waterfall, and has made the tough decision to have his lower left leg amputated. His hope is that as he heals, he’ll have more function with a prosthetic lower leg than he can hope to have with his current foot. His very real dream, is to become a Prosthetic Medic, and return to full duty. He’s been posting a LOT, and I’m looking forward to following his recovery.

I’ve been following his posts for about 2 weeks, and today, he’s been admitted to the hospital to have his amputation. Joe, I’ve never met you, but you’re a member of the great brotherhood of Paramedics, so I hope you are able to achieve your goal, and I hope your operation goes smoothly.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Up In Smoke, and why is EMS treated different then other employees?

Nicotine Tests Could Cost Fla. Medics Their Jobs

The above article is the top news story on right now. Long story short, it appears that the county is now in the EMS buisness, so the EMS employees are now County Employees. The policy change doesn't go into effect until October of this year.

I've never been able to understand why so many people in EMS, the fire service, and LEO's smoke. We've all seen people dying of tobacco-related cancers. My favorite irony is seeing a firefighter come outside from a fire, and take off his mask on his way to rehab... and light up a smoke. If you really want to inhale smoke and carcinogens, why bother wearing a pack?

To be honest, I'm of mixed opinions. While I personally, don't smoke, and can't understand why people do (it's disgusting and harmful to your health). I don't see that my employer (especially a government employer) has any right to tell me what I can and can't do when I'm NOT at work/in uniform.

My biggest concern of the whole article, though, is this line:

The nicotine test only applies to uniformed workers, like law enforcement. Paramedics and ambulance crew members will be required to take a nicotine test starting on Oct. 1.”

Why does it only apply to uniformed workers? Is there a different policy that applies to the rest of the county employees? The ones that sit behind desks all day, and get real lunch breaks? The article isn't clear, and I can't find anything else quickly online – If someone can enlighten me, I'd appreciate it. If there is no policy for the “office dwellers” - than this policy is out of line.