L.A. PARAMEDIC CRISIS UNLEASHES EMOTIONS.Byline: Jordan Smith Jordan Smith (born November 4, 1985 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) was a professional ice hockey player who was drafted by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim of the NHL. Playing career
Jordan Smith was promising defenceman prospect for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Staff Writer
Veteran paramedics, union officials and even the Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. Fire Department's own medical director delivered impassioned pleas Thursday before the fire commissioners and Chief William Bamattre to end the critical paramedic par·a·med·ic
A person who is trained to give emergency medical treatment or assist medical professionals.
paramedic staffing shortages they said pose a significant threat to public safety.
Nearly 100 people gathered downtown for the first of three special meetings designed to address department staffing shortages, with Bamattre's policies and administration under fire from all quarters.
``You're expecting too much out of the paramedics and firefighters in this department,'' said Ron Myers, a 20-year veteran paramedic, who fought back tears while addressing the commission and the visibly uncomfortable Bamattre.
``And what does the department do to deal with all this? Not a hell of a lot.''
These sentiments were echoed by nine veteran paramedics who signed up to speak during the public comments segment of the four-hour-long meeting.
A series of Daily News stories recently outlined the severe shortages of paramedics, the stress they face and the danger posed to the public in emergencies.
All gathered - including union officials and medical director Dr. Marc Eckstein - said the department must hire more paramedics and must put more ambulances into service as soon as possible.
``I have heartburn heartburn, burning sensation beneath the breastbone, also called pyrosis. Heartburn does not indicate heart malfunction but results from nervous tension or overindulgence in food or drink. when I see the same paramedics coming into the emergency room four shifts in a row - I'm working eight-hour shifts and they're working 24-hour shifts,'' said Eckstein, who is also an emergency room physician at the L.A. County/USC Medical Center.
``How can they possibly be at their best? It's unconscionable Unusually harsh and shocking to the conscience; that which is so grossly unfair that a court will proscribe it.
When a court uses the word unconscionable to describe conduct, it means that the conduct does not conform to the dictates of conscience. .''
Currently, there are 56 ambulances in use citywide and there are at least 54 paramedic positions vacant.
Critics contend that the department needs to hire at least 150 paramedics to reduce overtime and fatigue. Bamattre recently said he would like paramedics and ambulances in every station; that would require the department to hire at least 200 more paramedics.
Currently paramedics must go through firefighter training before being detailed to an ambulance. The average time it takes to put a new recruit through paramedic school and firefighter training is nearly two years.
Eckstein said the department should seek to hire 100 paramedics immediately and put them directly onto ambulances, rotating ro·tate
v. ro·tat·ed, ro·tat·ing, ro·tates
1. To turn around on an axis or center.
2. them through firefighter training once staffing problems are brought under control.
Because of a 1992 consolidation of paramedics and firefighters into one, dual-function job, the department has not been able to hire personnel who are only paramedic trained.
As well, due to an exception for firefighters in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act Fair Labor Standards Act or Wages and Hours Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1938 to establish minimum living standards for workers engaged directly or indirectly in interstate commerce, including those involved in production of goods bound , the city does not have to pay overtime costs until firefighters have worked 53 hours in a week. No such exception exists for paramedics.
``It's a problem when we can't use paramedics on a resource for 18 months. What happens to their EMS skills in that time? Are they still any good? Do they still want to be paramedics?'' Eckstein asked.
He also contended that the FLSA FLSA Fair Labor Standards Act
FLSA Fedora Legacy Security Advisory costs would be negligible considering the size of the city and the possible threats to public safety incurred by not having paramedics on the street.
Eckstein's presentation garnered a round of applause from the crowd and netted praise from Fire Commission President David Fleming
David Fleming , who asked whether Eckstein would consider joining the commission's subcommittee sub·com·mit·tee
A subordinate committee composed of members appointed from a main committee.
``We would like to rely on you for a lot of the work we're doing,'' Fleming said.
A bristling bristling
see hackles. Bamattre was quick to the microphone, saying that although he prides himself on encouraging ideas ``whether I agree with them or not,'' the commission needs to look at the possible implications of the ideas presented by Eckstein.
``We need to work together to find solutions,'' Bamattre said. ``We need to look to long-term solutions, not quick fixes.''
Firefighters union President Ken Buzzell challenged Bamattre, saying the department needs to solve the staffing shortages immediately. Staffing shortages cause resources - ambulances and engine companies - to be closed on a daily basis, he said. These closures cost lives, as recently as last month, he said.
Buzzell said staffing shortages left Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas' district without a paramedic-staffed ambulance, he said.
``So it took an ambulance 11 minutes to get to a scene,'' he said. By the time the ambulance arrived at the hospital, he said, the patient died.
``(Closures) are not uncommon, they are routine. Something needs to be done today,'' he said.
The presentation of Robert Scott - the department psychologist who has been conducting research into paramedic stress and fatigue - was postponed, because of time constraints In law, time constraints are placed on certain actions and filings in the interest of speedy justice, and additionally to prevent the evasion of the ends of justice by waiting until a matter is moot. , until the next meeting. Scott's preliminary research indicates that at least 32 percent of paramedics are suffering from extreme stress.
Further, commissioners hoped to add other department issues to the meeting's agenda - including the controversial one-plus-one program and current problems with the central dispatch system - but with the outpouring of emotional testimony about staffing shortages, the meeting ran long and time ran out. Fleming said he hopes to address these issues at later meetings.
Fleming said the second of three special meetings will take place in the San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. on Sept. 28. The time and location of the meeting have yet to be announced To be announced (TBA)
A contract for the purchase or sale of an MBS to be delivered at an agreed-upon future date but does not include a specified pool number and number of pools or precise amount to be delivered. .