Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Musings on Kansas City's EMS...

It has been very difficult to watch the emergency medical service in Kansas City decay before my eyes since the merger/take over by the Kansas City Fire Department. I have access to priviledged conversation, giving me a bit of an inside view of the thoughts and concerns of medics of all stripes working EMS for the Kansas City Fire Department. I have sat on those communications, because of the nature of the media by which they come to me.
A while back I received an email from an anonymous source describing the situation in the EMS division of the KCFD. I never did post anything from that email, although I wrote a draft post.
A week ago, Tony's Kansas City posted about a situation involving the declaration of someone being dead in the field by non-EMS KCFD personnel. Within the past few days, I posted a link to an EMS journal's news of a study on response times for ambulances on the SKC Observer Facebook page. I received a comment in that forum that described some of the aspects of the case TKC alluded to in his post in more (and excruciating) detail.
Now, I can do one of two things: I can ignore--or worse delete--that comment on the Observer's Facebook page, or I can speak to it, and speak more generally to the state of EMS in our fair city at this time, and the fact that it ain't what it used to be.
Now we all know that MAST wasn't perfect--there were money issues with the service at times, and occasionally operational issues. However, it seems that the folks who worked there took pride in where they worked and cared about the quality of the service they rendered. If there is any more unfortunate casualty of the KCFD take over it is the loss of morale among those who provided EMS for Kansas City for many years as employees of MAST. Response times and save rates are measures that can be quantified--and response times are struggling to meet standards both in the north and south parts of the city but the morale of employees is difficult to measure. To hear of paramedics and EMTs who are struggling to keep their morale up and their desire to do the work at a respectable level is just about as unsettling as the operational issues that have required attention.


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Anonymous said...

What ever happen to being a professional? These Medics and EMT's really should stop bitching and do their job to the best of their ability despite what's going on with their "contract." Frankly I'm tired of hearing about how things have taken such a bad turn since the merger because at the endof the day the deal is DONE. Yes kinks still need to be worked out and people who cannot seem to fit in SHOULD QUIT. There are other jobs out there and so why continue with an employer who you believe is not doing everything right.
Maybe I'm ranting a little bit but come on! In life you some times have to this past yourself.
If people only knew what kind of BS calls the Fire Department gets everyday/ every hour/ every minute. Maybe instead of logging on or picking up the phone and complaining do something about it or move on...

Bob G. said...

I'm with anon on this one as well.
Same goes for calls into police departments. Too much BS there, too.
It's certainly not a unique problem, but it IS a GROWING one.

When it comes to professional positions like these, the person MUST "fit the job", and not the other way around.
That will compromise public safety...and hurt the department.

Good post.

Stay safe out there.

Super Dave said...

EMS personnel need to get over it. What isn't to debate now is rather or not combining the two departments together was good or not.

They need to do their job and as well do it the best they can. This pissing and moaning has to stop.

I am so sick and tired of divisions of public safety in the Knasas City area saying we don't like that so screw you people we just won't do our job anymore and make you the public who pay us suffer.

Get your ass on duty everyday and give 100% then when you get off duty go whine do what ever it takes to show but prove how unhappy you are about things and have some really great proof of the matter and not a bunch of created stuff that was made just because you want to try and prove it's not right. Any semi smart person knows you can twist facts and and make up stories and cop attitudes to make something look bad.

The Observer said...

This is an interesting comment thread--well, except for the spam--and a full reply deserves a blog post.
I have always taken the stand myself that while this was an awful idea, understudied and rushed for political gain, once it was done, we had to make the best of it.
Worker morale is one of those mushy things, about as easy to nail down as jello. It is just one of several issues here. At this point no one involved with the decision will admit it was a mistake, but we do seem to be stuck with the results.

Anonymous said...

What is the city doing about the number of 911 calls. I read that in 2009 there were 800,000 calls to the 911 center. Everything from the "neighbor is loud" to "I smell carbon monoxide" The city needs to do something. 90,000 EMS calls for a city of only 450,00 is insane. Calling the FD for a chirping smoke detector so they will replace the battery for free is insane. Going to the hospital by ambulance for a preganancy test because medicaid will pay for it is insane. Whats worse is we the taxpayors pay the price of an ever growing insane system

The Observer said...

Anony Feb 23 at 11:23 pm--this is an excellent point and is something that is being examined on the national level. Trying to work in some discretion for medics to not transport every runny nose and pregnancy test is very difficult in these entitled and litigious days plus the effects of the laws regarding requirements to treat. In England, the paramedics have the ability to refuse transport in a sophisticated ALS ambulance and can call taxis for those seeking simple transport. A lot will have to change for American EMS providers to have similar latitude in the field today, but to refuse to give expensive ALS transport to people with minor issues would save money--the question is how can we do it without being tied up in legal knots?