(Excerpt from the book, “Paramedic Heretic”)
In San Jose California a high school principal was under fire last year as the result of following a ‘no ambulance on the field’ school policy.
Fourteen-year-old Keanu Gallardo had suffered a concussion during a Del Mar High School football game in October. But even after the American Medical Response EMS team arrived, the young player was forced to lay and wait for the medics to haul emergency gear nearly the length of the field. Then he had to be carried the same distance back to the ambulance.
Del Mar Principal Liz Seabury told reporters she was following district orders which forbid motorized vehicles on the newly remodeled field.
Days later as the young man was recovering, the incident continued to infuriate a number of local town-folks who stated they simply could not fathom a policy that would place turf value over an athlete’s welfare. Parent Debbie Musquez, who witnessed the event, said, “The child’s health needs to come first. The behavior of the principal and medics is disturbing.”
Campbell Union High School District board member Matthew Dean saw the incident this way. “It’s a failure to apply common sense across the board.”
The father of another player said, “The principal should have made a different decision, but AMR Paramedics should certainly have overridden her. They knew he had a head injury – they were told as much on dispatch. The medics are supposed to be the ‘experts’ and yet they let this non-medical professional dictate emergency procedure. That’s crazy.”
Another parent said, “What kind of environment have we created, such that three adults don’t feel comfortable overriding a rule?” he asked.
While it is now clear the delay had no negative impact on the student’s health, EMS professionals agree that when a player has a head injury, there is no immediate way to know how serious it may be, so no delay is acceptable. The school district superintendent has since responded with an apology to the injured player’s mother. And the district-wide policy has been reversed, to allow access to emergency vehicles if paramedics deem it necessary.
AMR, on the other hand, anticipates no change in protocols. The company’s policy is – and has always been – that Paramedics do not challenge anyone of authority on scene, regardless of whether such assertiveness may be in the best interest of the patient.
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Which but one reason why many thousands of Paramedics refuse to work for AMR.
Immutable Law #2
Saving lives is not our priority.
Following our policies is our priority.
Protecting ourselves comes next. Avoiding
lawsuits comes third. You come somewhere
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