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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Unnecessary Ambulance Calls

Sweet wifey just posted an article on 911 calls. Go HERE to read all of it. Her perception and observation is that there are way too many unnecessary 911 calls and ambulance dispatches in our small county.

Many of the "unnecessary" 911 calls are often originated by someone other than the patient. Frequently a family member or even perhaps a bystander will panic and call 911 over something that appears to them to be an emergency. When the ambulance arrives, the patient, who may have dealt with their "emergency" condition before realizes that the ambulance is not necessary and declines service.

Police may the the source of some 911 calls. They tend to take a safe rather than sorry approach to dispatching EMS to the scene of a wreck. Many times it turns out that injuries are very minor or there are no injuries at all. Some cops are better than others at assessing injuries. In our county, helicopters are often dispatched by the responding EMS people before they actually arrive. If they perceive they are responding to a wreck with potential critical injuries they may ask for a helicopter. If it turns out that the injuries are not so serious, the helicopter may be called off. Most of the time wrecks are called in to 911 by laypersons with no training. Sometimes panic is the norm and they are able to give little useful information to the 911 operator.

Sometimes ambulances are dispatched as a matter of convenience. Grandma has been sick for a week. Suddenly the visiting home health nurse decides that Grandma's week long sickness is an emergency and calls 911. It has been an amazement to me that they rarely ever suggest to the family an appointment with Grandma's family doctor. Sometimes families are to blame. Thinking people might have taken Grandma to the doctor days ago. Non-thinking people may let Grandma lay at home until her minor illness actually becomes an emergency.

All too frequently 911 calls are made for stupid reasons and by people who are impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. I know paramedics can get rather disgusted when they go lights and sirens to a scene only to find a slobbering drunk.

I have to agree that many ambulance calls are unnecessary. I am not sure what the exact answer is to reducing these calls. More times than not PANIC is the cause. If you have a room full of people and one or two of them start screaming and wringing their hands, more times than not, the whole room full will end up screaming and wringing their hands.

Panic is contagious. I tell my staff here at the ER that no matter how bad the situation, to keep a cool head and never let on that they are excited or upset. It always works out better that way.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds advice and you would know. People figure "better safe than sorry" I guess and make the call whether it's needed or not. Of course I suppose there are those who really do need an ambulance and refrain from calling one because they don't want to be on the receiving end of an ambulance, they don't want to think that they are that bad off.

    Right Truth