Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Letter to the Editor: We are in Trouble

Letter to the Editor;

We are in Trouble
By Brian E. Clark

Yesterday, I spoke with Donna M. Hunter, the CEO of Hunters Ambulance, Corporation Counsel, and we discussed the current situation of the state of Middletown, and it’s Emergency Medical Services. First, This is right in my wheelhouse. I was a Certified Emergency Medical Technician, 
Firefighter, graduating 2nd in my Class for the Connecticut Fire Academy. I hold numerous other certifications issued by the Connecticut Fire Academy to complete the Firefighter Course there, but I am specialized in High Angle Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, and Pneumatic Rescue. Further, I hold 19 Certifications issued by FEMA, The Federal Emergency Management Agency in Emergency Management and Incident Command Systems, Structure and Control. I am qualified to speak on this topic.

The way the Standard Operating Procedures for Middletown are written, for Middletown right now is as follows: If it is a Fire Call, you will get 2 Engine’s, and a Ladder Truck, Initially. Reason is simple: If it is indeed an actual structure fire, The Officer, usually Highest Ranking will assume Command, and direct one engine to “Wrap” a Hydrant, and lay 5” Hose as a supply, to bring water to the scene, more importantly to that Engine, which is a pumper, and can supply water not only to the Ladder Truck, but to the secondary Engine if it does not have its own water source. The Ladder Truck Crew is initially responsible for two things: Providing a search and rescue of the building, and provide ventilation in the roof, by cutting large holes for the make to escape, and easier for the Engine crews, now equipped with 1” ½”- 1” ¾” hand lines to provide an interior attack to the fire. An Incident Commander has one thing he operates by; it’s called the LIPS system, and is an acronym for Life, Incident, Property, and Safety. While this is all going on the Incident commander is calling in for additional units to the scene, and Police and EMS personnel. The Same type of structure is done for an Emergency call (i.e.: Motor Vehicle Accident, Medical, Rescues of all manners, etc.) Our Middletown Firefighters are required to be certified EMT-Basic’s, and our Middletown Fire Department, all three of them, are the best in the world, and have the best equipment available to them for every conceivable situation.

Our Emergency Medical Services on the other hand, have a lot to be desired, and is could be potentially deadly if we keep operating like we are now. Talking with Hunter’s Ambulance, it was told to me that The City of Middletown does not have a contract with Hunter’s Ambulance. In all reality, we do not have an Emergency Medical Services system in place. So, how it is Hunters Ambulance comes to our Emergency Medical Calls. Well, it a coincidence. Hunters Ambulance has an agreement with Middlesex Hospital. They have a contract for Meriden, and Portland, and they assist in Cromwell, and East Hampton. This puts Middletown in their Primary Service Area, or PSA. In other words, because of those other contracts, they happen to be around Middletown. If an Emergency Medical Call comes in to 911, Dispatch calls Hunters, and IF they have an available BLS, Basic Life Support unit available, they will send them. Our ALS, Advanced Life Support Service is covered by Middlesex Hospital. These are the people you need if you are dying. They have the training and supplies to administer lifesaving Medications, open air-ways, and the list goes on. They are Mini- Doctor’s out in the field.

The fact remains though that we do not have a Guaranteed Emergency Medical Services program. The way we operate now, and I am being serious, is if an Emergency Call occurs, and we call Hunter’s, and they don’t have a unit available, now we have to use “Mutual Aid”, which as in Fire, requires calling different Fire Departments, or Ambulance Associations, and asking if they have a unit available. Mind you, many of these are volunteer services, which gathering a crew, transit time, and level of experience can be fatal to the patient. Our Mutual Aid list is as follows: 1.) Cromwell, 2.) Durham 3.) East Hampton 4.) Haddam/ Killingworth. I personally think Rocky Hill should be in there, but who am I?

We need a guaranteed contract with an Emergency Medical Services Company, or there are three ways we can go about this, that add jobs to the city, increase taxes, and create a base of revenue. #1.) We have Middlesex Hospital take over our Emergency Medical Services. It creates jobs here in town. The company is here in town. Ambulances would be guaranteed her in Middletown to reduce response times, and Paramedics can be used in crews to create ALS Unit’s, saving valuable time where it is needed most. #2.) Invest in our Fire Departments and have them take over Emergency Medical Services to the BLS Level, keeping Middlesex Hospital as an ALS First Responder or intercept as needed. Again, it would create jobs, increase Local #1073 & Local 3918 membership increase our tax income, keep our residents safer, by combining Fire and EMS under one roof, where in a fire department you become a band of brothers, and each knows what the other needs without asking. Besides reducing the need for First Responders, freeing up Engine’s, Rescues, and Ladder trucks to be available for other emergency calls. I do not know if the Fire Departments would be receptive to such an idea. But this is an idea that bears having a conversation over. The #3 idea is radical. It is to start an independent Middletown Emergency Medical Services, where the sky is the limit. We could limit it to BLS, ALS, or a new Concept ACLS, which stands for Advanced Cardiac Life Support. With this idea, and having the Fire Department take over, apparatus could be created that are one of a kind, where rescue equipment is onboard the unit that transports the patient. I mean, Jaws or Life, High Angle Rescue, Cold Water Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, pneumatic, and Hydraulic rescue, and limited Haz-Mat, and Fire.

The things I saw when I worked the site at the World Trade Center make me know that we have to think outside the box, and be ready for anything. We do not have a plan right now. None. We are hedging a bet that Hunters will be around to bail our ass out. When lives are at stake, that’s just not good enough. When you have a bad day in that job, people die. Startup costs can be quite enormous, however, because of the way things are in the nation and the world; Federal & Private Grants are available. Help is available. FEMA will send people out to help us set these things up. Make no mistake, these are grand plans, than can take years to accomplish. We are in trouble right now! We need a commitment and contract now that guarantee’s we have Emergency Medical Services available in this city 24 Hours a day!

Taxes, Education, the Common Council, and Planning and Zoning are all important issues. But this is serious! Our residents are not properly protected. When they have a Medical Emergency, they expect an Ambulance to show up, and the way it is now is a gamble. Someone eventually will eventually come, but in the time takes, first responders can only do so much. First Responders cannot administer medications. People can die because it takes too long.
In closing I’ll leave you with this. If you witness someone suffer a heart attack and die, if CPR is not preformed immediately, the brain begins to die within 4 minutes. Learn CPR. Take a First Aid Course. Become educated! Save lives! In my career, I had to do CPR 19 times, and brought back 2. One of which was my first time.

We can change the world, folks, but it begins here, within our streets, within our homes.
On November 3rd Vote for Brian E. Clark, Write in on Line 1D

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