Random musings, observations, squeaks, whimpers and perhaps the ocassional rant. About what, I'm not sure.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Before you flame me, and in case you need a reminder that the rants and raves in this blog are mine and mine alone, here’s the blahgKarma disclaimer:

The views expressed here are my own - not my family's, not my friends', not my dog's, not the President of the United States', and certainly not my employer's.

With that said, this tragic story from from today’s EMSNetwork News:

Ambulance Hits Mercedes, Kills Driver

Shortly after 11:00pm, officials say an EMS ambulance was responding to a call, heading west on south plaza trail, when it crashed into a two door Mercedes headed north on Independence Boulevard.

The impact was so hard that the Mercedes was knocked off the road.

The driver of the Mercedes, 34-year old [name removed] of [city removed], was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and died overnight. [name removed], of [address removed], was the only occupant in his vehicle. No one in the ambulance was hurt.

Police say their preliminary investigation indicates the ambulance had its emergency equipment activated at the time. According to authorities, the ambulance had a red light as it approached the intersection.

Officials say Brandon was not wearing his seatbelt and was on a cellular phone as he entered the intersection.

I feel for both the driver and crew of the ambulance and the driver of the vehicle and his family.  No matter how you slice it, a tragedy.  If you know someone related to either side of this accident, please accept my condolences.

But where’s the outrage?  Shouldn’t the public be screaming about “the horrendous and sharply rising rate of ground ambulance accidents”?  Why aren’t the national media outlets covering this?

I’m using this story and these comments to hop up on a soapbox about the media flogging the aeromedical industry’s accident rate this year.  Many refer to a Wall Street Journal article on the subject as authoritative, but I disagree.  Some like to say (incorrectly, I think) that the pace of accidents has risen sharply.  But has it – lets say – as a function of the number of patients transported or patient miles flown?  I don’t think so.  But that’s not news now, is it?

So if ground ambulances are crashing – very - regularly (you really don’t want to know how often) and those crashes tragically kill folks ocassionally, where’s the WSJ article on that?  The answer is – there isn’t one.  Why?  In my opinion because motor vehicle crashes occur literally every minute of every day, but aircraft crashes (thankfully) happen very ocassionally.  But, granted, are much more sensational.  Which, I suppose sells more newspapers and cereal ads and the like.

Our emergency services workers, in the air or on the ground, do their best every day to safely and securely discharge their duties to the best of their abilities, and society gains as a result.  And, I think we can always improve safety and patient care, every day (see my post on “achieving” excellence) – in my experience, the industry is working hard on this.  In the end its a risky business and a dangerous job, but it has to be done, and the folks I know that do it are truly called to it, excel at it, and bust their collective asses, all the while subordinating their personal risk to the greater good.

Don’t get me wrong – ONE accident is one too many.  But if its rational to be incensed over recent air ambulance crash rates, then get ready for a march on Washington on ground ambulance accidents, sister.  You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.



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