Cardiac dispatch choices questioned
It took more than an hour for a rural Lincolnville woman to reach a hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest early Saturday.
At 2:56 a.m., county dispatchers called for Tampa ambulance to go to the 2500 block of 270th Rd., about 4 ½ miles southeast of Lincolnville.
A search of Google Maps shows Tampa is 18.6 miles from the address. Marion ambulance, however, is 11.7 miles away, a 13-minute drive.
Sheriff Rob Craft said Tampa was contacted first because they have an ambulance crew.
“To transport somebody, we need an ambulance,” Craft said.
Craft said county ambulance stations have assigned zones, and he did not know which zone the address is in. He said he doesn’t know who draws up the zones ambulances are assigned to cover.
As dispatchers were trying to ascertain how the woman was breathing, and began instructions for delivering CPR, Lincolnville first responders were dispatched at 3:02 a.m., six minutes after the ambulance page. It is common for an ambulance and first responders to be dispatched at the same time for situations less serious than a cardiac arrest.
“They paged Lincolnville first response and I replied and I asked them to page Lincolnville fire for assistance,” Lincolnville fire chief Lester Kaiser said.
Dispatchers paged Lincolnville fire.
Kaiser said the department has had defibrillators on its first responder truck for nearly two decades.
Tampa ambulance was still en route as attendants and dispatchers tried to determine if a Lifeteam helicopter was available, when it could arrive, and where it might go.
At 3:17 a.m., Lifeteam said their estimated time of arrival was 3:43 a.m.
At 3:25 a.m., Tampa ambulance attendants asked dispatch to check with Lifeteam, believing they don’t fly when CPR is in progress.
According to EMS director Ed Debesis, who also works for Lifeteam, having CPR in progress doesn’t affect whether Lifeteam responds.
“If they’re activated, they’d fly,” Debesis said.
“We’ve been turned down for other reasons, like weather and different circumstances,” Craft said.
At 3:27 a.m., a dispatcher reported Lifeteam as saying they typically do not fly with CPR, but stabilize on scene.
The helicopter was directed to St. Luke Hospital after Tampa ambulance arrived on scene at 3:30 a.m.
It was 3:59 a.m. — an hour and three minutes after the first call to dispatch — that Tampa ambulance said they were two minutes from St. Luke Hospital with a cardiac arrest patient.
The patient did not survive.
Debesis said part of the reason it took so long to get the patient to a hospital was because she was out in the county.
The first hour is considered “golden” in getting a cardiac arrest patient to a hospital, he said.
Eventually, ambulance personnel will do more for patients than they now do, Debesis said.
“Eventually we’re going to go away from taking someone to the hospital in a (cardiac arrest),” Debesis said. “Butler’s County’s doing it right now and their success rate of improved patient outcomes is phenomenal.”
Last modified Nov. 2, 2017