Meet Doug Gansler – he travels Code 3

What on Earth is a state Attorney General doing that is so important and time-sensitive that he needs to travel lights-and-sirens to his destinations?

Let’s for a moment assume this report is accurate, according to The Washington Post,

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler regularly ordered state troopers assigned to drive him to turn on the lights and sirens on the way to routine appointments, directing them to speed, run red lights and bypass traffic jams by using the shoulder, according to written accounts by the Maryland State Police.

Here I write regularly about the dangerously stupid practice of responding lights-and-sirens to what nearly always turn out to be completely non-urgent situations, and yet we have an AG – not any kind of actual field emergency responder – running around town like an idiot because he’s impatient.

What. The. Fuck.

By the way, Mr. Gansler, we don’t drive on the right shoulder with lights and sirens. The right is the direction people are supposed to move toward when emergency vehicles running lights and sirens approach. Put two and two together, numbnuts.

I’m so glad that as the state’s top law enforcement officer, Mr. Gansler deems it OK to ignore laws that other people are expected to follow. It’s not like our roads are not filled with thoroughly distracted and/or drunk and/or high assholes without licenses and/or insurance who can’t control their vehicles anyway. Not to mention that he apparently has zero concept of risk, public safety, simple ethics, and what some people would call “just don’t be a douchebag.”

He’s also currently running for Governor, so I’m sure he’ll definitely be needlessly traveling lights-and-sirens everywhere if he’s elected.

Modesty: The Lost Virtue

A reader brought to my attention an article about private ambulance companies in Orange County, California. The operational issues and political back-and-forths are really nothing new and are somewhat boring to me, but a few paragraphs in the article really made me laugh.

To illustrate the consequences of privatization, Knabe and others point to the recent experience of Alameda County, which lies across the bay from San Francisco. The county has contracted out its paramedic services for years. In November 2011, a new firm, Texas-based Paramedics Plus, took over with a five-year contract.

But things turned ugly this year when the company revealed it had so far lost $9.5 million on the contract and accumulated $3.9 million in county fines for failing to meet performance standards.

Despite the issues with its contract, Dale Feldhauser, new manager for Paramedic Plus in Alameda County, said it is the “biggest myth” in emergency services that public paramedics provide higher quality clinical care than private paramedics. “If they do proper cost accounting, they can’t touch [a private firm’s] cost structure,” he said.

I don’t know who any of these people are, but that’s some mighty big talk, coming from the firm that lost $9.5 million in a little more than a year.

Big difference

I’m at a training class and we’re running scenarios. An animated picture of a mosque bombing is on the screen.

“OK, this is a mosque where you have a report of a bomb explosion. Who wants to be the first unit on scene, give an arrival report and describe your priorities?”

Someone on the other side of the room offers, “I’ll go.”

“Go ahead.”

“Engine 1 on scene of a synagogue with smoke showing on the alpha side…”

I perked up. I can sense a sudden, slight tension in the room but no one says anything. From an incident standpoint, it’s not that big of a deal. But as far as general knowledge is concerned, this is pretty bad.

That’s the exact opposite of what you assholes did

Funny how the same politicians who, just a year or two ago, cut public safety budgets and laid off emergency workers by the dozens are now calling for the hiring of emergency workers because of widespread crime spikes and poor response times, as well as the mass exodus of experienced employees these cuts spurred.

It’s almost as if no one warned them that this would happen.

After blaming public safety employees for all the budget woes for which they themselves, as decision-makers, were fully responsible, these dishonest, dishonorable, shit-for-brains politicians are suddenly fine with hiring these same street-level public safety employees, who have suddenly been absolved of “bankrupting” jurisdictions left and right with their supposed extravagant pay and benefits.

The best part, for me, has got to be that around here, for instance, we have more new co-workers than the poor souls who were laid off. Simple arithmetic says, why lay anyone off in the first place if you end up hiring more people afterward?

But what the fuck do I know – I’m just a stupid peon.

The Waiting Room

One of the best documentaries released this year is called The Waiting Room. It features the public Alameda County Medical Center, better known as Highland Hospital, in Oakland, California, a city known nationally for its abject poverty and eye-opening homicide rate.

If you enjoyed the documentary Firestorm about Station 65 of the Los Angeles Fire Department, you’ll probably like this too.

From its website:

The Waiting Room is a character-driven documentary film that uses extraordinary access to go behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. The film – using a blend of cinema verité and characters’ voiceover – offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers each cope with disease, bureaucracy and hard choices.

The ER waiting room serves as the grounding point for the film, capturing in vivid detail what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance. Young victims of gun violence take their turn alongside artists and small business owners who lack insurance. Steel workers, taxi cab drivers and international asylum seekers crowd the halls. The film weaves the stories of several patients – as well as the hospital staff charged with caring for them – as they cope with the complexity of the nation’s public health care system, while weathering the storm of a national recession.

The Waiting Room lays bare the struggle and determination of both a community and an institution coping with limited resources and no road map for navigating a health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction. It is a film about one hospital, its multifaceted community, and how our common vulnerability to illness binds us together as humans.

Romney, really?

This is from a 60 Minutes interview this past Sunday:

Scott Pelley: Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don’t have it today?

Mitt Romney: Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance, people – we – if someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.

So – setting aside how weird his non-answer to the question really was – basically, a major presidential candidate with enough background in universal health care in a state of 6.5 million people just said on national media, “The poor and insurance? Don’t worry about any of that – EMS and EDs will clean everything up.”

Yeah, it’s cool – with budget cuts and never-ending ED closures, ever-increasing uninsured populations and patient volumes, those lazy, burned-out-because-of-countless-bullshit-patients, good-for-nothing EMS crews and ED staff aren’t busy enough anyway.

Some may say that the uninsured already use ambulances to get to EDs for primary care. Yes, some do. But it’s one thing that they do it, and an entirely different thing when a prominent national figure, contrary to his past, essentially tells everyone to do the same thing.

All those posts here at this site about food and coffee, I take them all back. I may never eat again on duty.

Is that dedication or what?

I just realized last night, while we were on our way to yet another call at some ungodly hour, that even though the ignorant public and the lying politicians are constantly yakking about cutting our pay and our benefits because we’re such overpaid gluttons who love raping taxpayers and pillaging budgets like Wall Street executives on crack, not once have I shown up on scene thinking about any of this in someone’s time of need.

Call me classy.

Now go fuck yourselves.