A while back….. After the dilemma I had deciding whether or not to call 9-1-1 for assistance for my husband (read about that here)…… I got to thinking about how the levels (or severity might be a better word) of 9-1-1 calls are like rungs of a ladder. I’ll be concentrating on EMS style calls (as this is what I am more familiar with).
At the top, you have the straight up obvious – the ones that no one in their right mind would dare refute. Like cardiac arrest (heart stoppage – for the laymen reading this), respiratory arrest, limb amputation (ok, doesn’t have to be that severe….), things like that.
Next level down would be those calls that are still fairly obvious (especially to the EMT/Paramedic soon after arrival) may not be blatantly obvious to the caller…… “So and so is having chest pains, I think their having a heart attack”
At the very bottom are the infamous (among paramedics) “Bull Shit”, “Taxi Cab” calls…. The ones that make even a lay-person (one who respects & appreciates the work that paramedics do) say “What the….?”
But what about the middle? The ones that don’t even meet the “obvious, but not obvious” rung. That’s where I found myself in the above mentioned blogpost (I won’t go into the boring details – read previous blog if you want to know what happened). How do you educate the public? How do you not let these types of calls burden the system or keep an AEMT (hope I’m getting this right) from getting to a critical call when needed. Obviously a cardiac or respiratory arrest call outweighs the difficulty breathing (no chest pains/no heart attack) that husband was experiencing, particularly when he’s still managing to talk. As I said I’m not going to go into details but the whole thing partly boiled down to a matter of extreme weakness on part of hubby and inability (even with my help) to transfer to our vehicle to be taken to the hospital (the low 80 O2 Sats he apparently had probably didn’t help).
It’s getting late and I’m rambling/repeating from yesterday’s post….. I mainly wanted to look at the severity of calls as a rung on a ladder and look at the middle rung the area where the most people are going to find themselves debating what to do, but also the ones that can easily become a burden (taking an advanced unit out of service to respond to a middle rung call, keeping them from a higher rung call).
A thought that comes to mind (and it may not be putting this very well) would be lower level (but no less important) EMTs for those “middle rung” calls. Course that would mean more highly trained dispatch to triage and determine (based on call) whether a “basic”, “intermediate” or “advanced” response is needed – with intercept to higher level if it is determined by basic (or intermediate) upon arrival on scene.
Just a thought. I don’t know that I’ve adequately described it or the rest of my thoughts in this blog, but I’ll leave it at this and let you ponder.
These are the ones that cause n