Ambulance issues need to be revisited

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 4, 2016

For those watching in the stands two weeks ago at D’Evereux Stadium, the seconds seemed to crawl as the sense of worry set in.

A high school football player, Daniel Garrity, lay injured on the sidelines as coaches, trainers and a physician who was in attendance checked on the young man’s injury.

The time continued to crawl after someone called 911 to summon an ambulance to attend to Garrity’s neck injury.

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More than 20 minutes elapsed after Garrity was injured before the ambulance crew had arrived and transported him off the field.

Fortunately, Garrity’s injuries were not life threatening.

But the incident underscores the potentially grave consequences of a recent decision by the county supervisors to simply stick with the status quo when it comes to emergency ambulance service.

Supervisors had considered signing an exclusive contract which theoretically would have allowed the county to specify much more rigid response-time requirements than the “hope for the best” option we currently live under.

In the case of Garrity’s injury, the ambulance company that received the call — 911 calls in the county are rotated between two companies — did not have an available ambulance nearby.

The nearest ambulance was in Fayette, miles and miles to the north. While that ambulance was dispatched, the company eventually reached out to the competing company to see if they could get to the scene more quickly. In this case, they could.

By washing their hands of the responsibility to lead and direct the ambulance services in the county, supervisors have setup a potentially deadly situation.

We urge supervisors to immediately reconsider their decision and build out a single-provider solution that includes minimum response times, the requirement to have an ambulance at each home football game in the community and ultimately give residents the peace of mind that when disaster strikes, help will not be a half an hour away.