Patient care must not be jeopardized

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

The battle over emergency rescue services in Andalusia continues to rage and people from all over are getting caught in the middle.

The only thing we still have to be thankful for is that both rescue services in question continue to maintain high levels of patient care, putting that before the desire to be awarded a contract with the City of Andalusia.

At least that's the impression we have.

We've witnessed numerous accidents where a rescue service was needed. In all these instances, EMS workers attended first to the most critically injured, while offering levels of comfort to others involved.

The question of the quality of service of either of the emergency medical services should not be in question. Both Andalusia Rescue and Faith EMS are state licensed rescue services. Both Faith EMS and Andalusia Rescue meet all state and federal guidelines. Both have highly-qualified, educated workers putting patient care in front of personal gain.

The problems that are arising tend to be exaggerated. Neither rescue service has had any formal complaints filed against them with the Alabama EMS Board. Neither of them. And that's important, because we've had people calling us and telling us that this service has, or that service has. It's simply not true. We know, we checked with the state ourselves.

Concerns over rescue workers battling it out in the streets over a patient are also overly exaggerated.

According to Steve Kennedy, deputy director of the state EMS, only one confirmed instance has been documented where rescue workers physically confronted each other and patient care was compromised.

That altercation happened on Interstate 65, and both parties involved are now without license.

Is there a solution to all the bickering that keeps popping up every few weeks? Perhaps.

We've been told by some that it's a very complicated matter. We've read the City's bid proposal and there are stipulations that we question that have nothing to do with patient care.

There's nothing wrong with trying to go above and beyond the state's requirements so long as the best care for a patient is involved - but is it really necessary to require a rescue service to provide generators for the city, provide generators and light for road blocks and checkpoints, and provide free stand-by services for civic clubs and events?

If those are all valid points in better emergency patient care, then by all means, yes. But, we really don't see where those stipulations have anything to do with the quality of care a patient receives.

Yes, this is a complicated matter, but sometimes, the most complicated of problems is solved with the simplest of solutions.

Currently, a rotation system is in place for emergency calls. According to Susan Carpenter, E-911 director, unless a caller requests a specific service, a rotation system is used. And it works fine, she said.

It can continue to work fine if all parties involved would just agree that it's patient care that really matters - not providing services that don't deal with patient care.