I am writing in response to the editorial “Don’t Drink Too Much” published in the 1/21/05 editorial section.
This article, while its point appeared to be a warning not to drink too much, did some very serious damage. This article portrays simple horrors in calling 911 for medical help, particularly for someone who is intoxicated. The article portrays the ambulance that responds as rude and harsh, and as practically kidnapping the patient, describes ways in which a patient would never be treated, and creates a horrific picture of patient care that would never take place. This article does not warn people of the effects of drinking, especially when it describes the victim as saying “I am fine.” Instead it makes people be afraid to call 911 when they do not know what to do for their friends.
How do I know? Because when you call 911 and the ambulance comes at 2am up the hill to pick someone up, I am there. I am a Paramedic with SOMAC Ambulance, the Hamilton area ambulance. As a student, I understand both sides, being a friend of a patient, and being the care provider. Let me assure you, nobody would ever be treated as described in the article. When you call 911 here is what happens: If you are on campus, CU C.Safety comes and determines if an ambulance is needed, if you are off campus we are dispatched immediately. Campus safety responds on campus to help triage the situation, it is a benefit. Once the ambulance arrives, we evaluate whomever is sick, and treat them with respect, dignity, privacy, and care. If someone does not need to go to the hospital we WILL NEVER FORCE THEM. We would not force someone onto our stretcher, and make them go against their will. For someone who has simply had too much to drink, an ambulance would never create a scene by driving to the hospital with “lights and sirens blaring” as the article portrays. Everyone at the hospital recieves their own “room.” At no time would a patient in a bed be put with a complete stranger, privacy is of the utmost importance.
I write this because I do not want someone to ever be afraid to call 911 because their friend might be treated as the article portrayed. If you do not know what is wrong with your friend or with someone you come across, call for help. But please dont leave the person once you make the call. Wait for us and explain what you saw. Ambulance members are there to help, I would rather someone call and have help be not really needed than risk letting someone die because someone was afraid to call. We can help educate you if you call, if we leave your friend with you we would explain what to do. We will transport anyone who needs it with respect. Further, no ambulance corps member ever reveals who was transported and/or why. Patient privacy is always kept confidential.
I emplore upon you, if you do not know what to do please do not be afraid to call for help.
Kevin T. Collopy ’05Paramedic, Training Officer, SOMAC Ambulance