Take for example this recent rejection regarding the request to have the Collier County EMS part-time ambulance upgraded to a fulltime asset. This action should cause us all to take a deep breath and ponder whether it is really advantageous to continue to try and work within the existing system. A system which would benefit greatly by us staying as part of the present arrangement and not forcing the Marco community to seek a COPCN and run its own emergency transport service due to these recent decisions.
The problems regarding response times and the availability of a second emergency transport unit has nothing to do with the initial call for assistance when the first medic unit is sitting at the station. The problems potentially exist as multiple calls come in one right after another, a phenomenon which happens on a regular basis year round as our population continues to grow, both on and off the island, and the demands for services rise.
The addition of the second fulltime emergency transport unit would be a major plus to both the island and the surrounding county area as the demands for services will continue to rise in the Isles of Capri, Hammock Bay and Fiddlers Creek area, as well as up the 951 corridor out to Golden Gate.
To add insult to injury the county has also clarified a restriction on 14 medications which our personnel will no longer be allowed to administer or purchase for placement on our Advanced Life Support vehicles. This came after special modifications were done to vehicles to insure those medications could be carried and maintained in a proper environment.
This is seen as the tying of the hands of our paramedics; professionals that meet all of the same educational and licensing requirements of the county personnel, and may only administer those medications, “if” county personnel are on scene. The County Medical Director who oversees those mandates has also seen fit to disallow the administration of “Tylenol” by our personnel. Yes, I’m speaking of the same medication you and I can enter into any convenience store or pharmacy and purchase.
Today we hear a lot about the problems associated with “bullying” in our schools. We unfortunately can draw similar correlations to the way our community and its professional first responders are being treated in regards to the issue of providing these necessary services to our citizens. Our staff and personnel are not asking for something that is not already being done in the field by county personnel when not working alongside our own paramedics. The training, licensing requirements and protocols are all the same and should be evenly administered throughout the county.
I’ve had the unique experience of having to utilize our emergency personnel due to a life threatening cardiac emergency four years ago this month. Our own firefighter/ paramedics were first to administer the lifesaving drugs and procedures which saved my life. They worked in conjunction with the county medic unit, but were the first to administer care as the county unit was out on a previous call, but would subsequently transport me to NCH where I was immediately transferred to the Cath Lab for an expedited procedure and placement of two stints to open up my coronary artery which was 100% blocked. That issue is commonly referred to as a LAD or the “Widow Maker,” due to the high mortality rate. However, due to the excellent care and professionalism of the Marco Island Fire/Rescue personnel I survived that incident, like so many others in our community.
My comments are not meant to demean or dishonor the Collier County EMS personnel in any way. They are hardworking and dedicated personnel who work well with our professionals on a daily basis. Both departments participate in cross training and interchange positions on city and county equipment alike, giving both added opportunities to increase their professional skills.
The professional reevaluation of the protocols surrounding the 14 medications in question would also be a major step in the right direction to insure patients are given ample opportunity to survive a medical crisis should it take place. This would help to insure the county has a unified and sound platform to provide all our residents with the excellent service levels we all desire.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com