Saturday, March 21, 2009

Looking Back....Let Fire Department Transport

See my comments that follow this Forum article.

Peoria Journal Star
February 28, 2004

Let fire department transport critically ill patients

The Peoria Fire Department purchased one or two ambulances recently. A Feb. 3 Journal Star editorial asked, ". . . what good is a fire department ambulance if it can't transport patients to the hospital?" Good question.

Perhaps a better question is, "Why can't the fire department transport patients in the first place?"

Fire department personnel, many of whom are trained paramedics, are the first responders to emergency medical calls every day. However, the fire department is not allowed to transport patients to a hospital and cannot provide advanced medical care at the scene.

Trauma patients must wait for paramedics from Advanced Medical Transport, a private ambulance company, to arrive. Since patient survival improves with faster response, the firefighters should be allowed to use their skills.

Control of ambulances and emergency medical services lies in the hands of the project medical director. The OSF-employed physician who held this post for nine of the last 12 years, Dr. George Hevesy, was paid a salary by AMT.

Freedom of Information documents from the state of Illinois reveal that OSF administrators knew and approved of this arrangement. There is an immense conflict of interest when a project medical director accepts money from a private ambulance company. Small wonder the fire department is not competing with AMT in the paramedic and transport business.

OSF should not allow an employee to accept money from an ambulance company he or she regulates. OSF also needs to explain why corporate profits have been given greater importance than fast emergency response times. City Manager Randy Oliver's commission on emergency services must address this conflict of interest.

The present project medical director, Dr. Rick Miller, needs to assure Peoria that the Peoria Fire Department will be adequately trained and allowed to transport patients in their new ambulances and that financial gain will not be allowed to override the public's right to the fastest and most efficient medical care possible.

Tom Carroll

My comments today March 23, 2009:

1. My brother Tom wrote this article.

2. The PFD owned one ambulance at the time. However, they were never allowed to use it to transport patients in Peoria. They eventually sold the ambulance. The PFD still has no amublance today and cannot transport patients.

Last summer (2008) there was a bus accident in Peoria. Due to the number of patients involved, AMT was overwhelmed, and did not have the vehicles to transport all of the victims. The PFD could not transport these patients. So CityLink, the Peoria public transportation company, did transport these patients to local emergency departments. Doesn't something seem wrong here?

3. Tom thought that rapid transport for trauma patients may save their lives. The next post will provide information from a Canadian study that suggests rapid transport of trauma patients is the most important intervention.

4. The conflict of interest that my brother documented still continues today in Peoria. And there is no end in sight.

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