A message from OEMSCA President Vincent Gildone
So, it’s Dorothy again?
Dorothy is sick again. Dispatched again to Dorothy’s house with the same symptoms she’s had the past 15 times you’ve transported her. She is old and chronically ill with many different conditions, and you know they can’t be fixed in the ER or in the back of your squad. All you can do is transport her to the ED. At the ED the comments will range from why did you bring her here, to what can we do? Frustrated they’ll discharge Dorothy who will go home; only to be called again by family members with unrealistic expectations.
Dorothy’s calls are never life-threatening and there is zilch you can do to treat her, so you make her comfortable while you drive her to the ED. Why? Because you have to, that’s why. There’s no way around it. Every first responder sooner or later realizes that the ambulance business isn’t always red lights and sirens.
Our primary obligation remains that every patient that calls us has a need. When the patient demonstrates the need for service, whether a perceived emergency or an acute emergency we have an obligation to serve the patient. Dorothy, even though close to death and nothing we can do will change that, she has the need for continued medical care, regardless of her present condition or prognosis and is very much deserving of our attention.
The long-standing history of EMS care focuses on the ability of all of us to fill the gap between the streets and the hospital. We can’t just leave repeat callers to their particular situation, no matter what our preference may be. We are not here to judge but to serve when we are called upon just like we have always done. I hope we will always choose to serve, putting the patient first! When all is said and done, if we want the public to treat us as professionals we need to behave accordingly.
If not us, then who?
Vincent T. Gildone