Hello, Fire Chief? I want to complain…

No, not me, but a recent client of mine.

THE EMERGENCY

Units were sent to a reported fire in a building.  The caller is describing flames coming from a room and he must evacuate.  This being in a residential hotel in an older part of town, a fire here will engulf the building quickly and our crews know it.

THE ACTION

The first engine reports nothing showing on arrival to the multi-story type 5 building, but the trucks aren’t waiting to get the sticks up and supply lines are being stretched by second and third due engines.  All this happening within 4 minutes of the report of fire.

The reporting party is in the lobby, stating that there is no fire, but that he had been shot, and didn’t want the police to come.  Telling a first due working company that their chance at getting some fire turned into a medical is like telling a 5 year old Santa took the year off on Christmas morning.

As the ladders came down and lines are drained the medic unit assigned to the first alarm is brought in to assess the patient.  Not surprisingly he is uninjured and well known to our crews for calling in a variety of ailments, not a one of them actually happening to him.

Since I was in the area (poaching really, Captains are dispatched on reports of working fires) I decided to swing in and see what they had going.

When the medic unit advised the patient they saw no evidence of a GSW and asked him to remove his shirt for a better assessment they were barraged with a string of profanity and threats that caught the attention of a nearby police officer.  I waved him over and said to our patient, “Tell him what you told us.”  The story changed from being shot to being in a car that had been shot AT a few days ago.

And then he asked for us to be arrested.  Arrested for not taking him to the hospital.  Seriously.  Then the officer did something that, if I did it, I would be an insensitive care giver and subject to losing my license:  He broke out in hysterical laughter and walked away.   As the medics gathered their smirks and giggles I asked what our patient wanted us to do if he was unharmed and uninjured.

“I want to speak to your supervisor.” he says

“I am the supervisor,” is my reply and he gives me a once over.

“I want your badge number, I’m calling the Fire Chief and reporting this whole ordeal.”

blink. blink.

My hand instinctively went for my phone and I pulled it out. “I’ll call her office right now. I want to hear you tell her about calling in a fire, lying about that, then lying to us, TWICE, then asking to have us arrested.  You tell her I’m here, S-C-H-O-R-R.  Here.”  I didn’t dial the office, which would have been awesome, but it had the intended effect.

“I don’t want to get you in trouble, you’ll get fired and it will be my fault.” He’s scrambling to his feet, eyes darting around the lobby as if looking for the exit, which is squarely behind me and my ambulance crew.

“So now you don’t want to go?” the medic asks and our patient asks to sign the form.  He’s seen it so often he can likely fill in his own ePCR.

Calling his bluff and ending his BS is not in my job description, as a medic or as a temporary Captain, nor is it listed in my protocols, but it was the right thing to do.  Many will say we open ourselves to liability in having such conversations but I will gladly stand in court and defend my actions against his words any day.

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33 thoughts on “Hello, Fire Chief? I want to complain…”

  1. Would you please clarify what you meant when you said “Many will say we open ourselves to liability in having such conversations…” What kind of liability?

    1. None, actually. There are those who still subscribe to the notion that leaving patients at home is not in their best interests and they hide behind a false definition of liability. In actuality, catering to this person’s abuse creates actual liability, should another person actually need that resource. Our concern is the patient at hand, but when that patient’s best interests do not match their verbal requests, what can we do?

  2. Would you please clarify what you meant when you said “Many will say we open ourselves to liability in having such conversations…” What kind of liability?

    1. None, actually. There are those who still subscribe to the notion that leaving patients at home is not in their best interests and they hide behind a false definition of liability. In actuality, catering to this person’s abuse creates actual liability, should another person actually need that resource. Our concern is the patient at hand, but when that patient’s best interests do not match their verbal requests, what can we do?

      1. Your problem is that you aorbted the installation. THIS messed up the boot sector of the HD.IF installed properly, on the 2nd HD, (or even a separate partition,) it would NOT have removed the XP.You apparently did NOT make a system backup.You need to DELETE the Ubuntu section, partition, etc.THEN, with a version of windows or dos that has fdisk run fdisk mbr or fdisk /mbr , (can’t remember which way the / goes as I seldom need it!). If wrong it won’t accept the command, then try the other way.THIS will cause the boot sector to search for an OS. It should find ONLY the XP, and will set that as the boot OS.Then restart your system. IF you messed up and actually installed the Ubuntu OVER the XP, you will just have to get another copy since you don’t have the disc needed; (YOU apparently did NOT READ THE MANUAL ON MAKING RESTORE DISCS!)retired programmer

  3. “In actuality, catering to this person’s abuse creates actual liability, should another person actually need that resource.”

    Where do you get the idea that there is a law saying EMS has the legal duty to respond in a certain period of time or to provide a certain resource?

    The first response and selective ALS response agencies in Seattle/King County do some really crazy things when it comes to refusing ALS transport and allowing BLS to advise patients about needing to go to the hospital or not. Our paramedics have a huge amount of freedom to transport who they want to including those with IV access. Let I can’t find a single lawsuit related to this.

    1. Tim, it’s not a law, but a mandate in the contract between the providers and the municipality which licenses them, allowing access to the system. They make certain demands of the services, number of rigs, types of equipment, licensure of those on board etc and one of those mandates is a response window. Most often it is listed as a time frame and a percentage of the time they are expected to meet that goal. ALS in 4 minutes 90% of the time would be nice, but of course there will be times when we miss that goal, so 100% is hard to mandate. When services are unable to meet those mandates, other agencies can challenge based on the lead agency’s inability to meet the mandate.
      We do have a legal duty to respond in a certain amount of time, not a criminal one, but a civil one.and tying up my rigs on liars hurts our score, sure, but more importantly puts another rig out of service.
      And you’ll find very few actual court cases, Cities race to settle out of court, costing 100s of millions.

  4. “In actuality, catering to this person’s abuse creates actual liability, should another person actually need that resource.”

    Where do you get the idea that there is a law saying EMS has the legal duty to respond in a certain period of time or to provide a certain resource?

    The first response and selective ALS response agencies in Seattle/King County do some really crazy things when it comes to refusing ALS transport and allowing BLS to advise patients about needing to go to the hospital or not. Our paramedics have a huge amount of freedom to transport who they want to including those with IV access. Let I can’t find a single lawsuit related to this.

    1. Tim, it’s not a law, but a mandate in the contract between the providers and the municipality which licenses them, allowing access to the system. They make certain demands of the services, number of rigs, types of equipment, licensure of those on board etc and one of those mandates is a response window. Most often it is listed as a time frame and a percentage of the time they are expected to meet that goal. ALS in 4 minutes 90% of the time would be nice, but of course there will be times when we miss that goal, so 100% is hard to mandate. When services are unable to meet those mandates, other agencies can challenge based on the lead agency’s inability to meet the mandate.
      We do have a legal duty to respond in a certain amount of time, not a criminal one, but a civil one.and tying up my rigs on liars hurts our score, sure, but more importantly puts another rig out of service.
      And you’ll find very few actual court cases, Cities race to settle out of court, costing 100s of millions.

  5. I stand and applaud your actions sir, not just yours but the crew that was there also. Well done not giving into the easy route and taking him in just to shut the Patient up. Rather Bravo on the fact that you went the extra steps to no play into him and called his bluff. Besides I wouldnt want to see him get you fired! HAHA!!!!

  6. I stand and applaud your actions sir, not just yours but the crew that was there also. Well done not giving into the easy route and taking him in just to shut the Patient up. Rather Bravo on the fact that you went the extra steps to no play into him and called his bluff. Besides I wouldnt want to see him get you fired! HAHA!!!!

    1. If only the DA prosecuted our section. we were informed recently they would no longer be doing so. Selective law enforcement…awesome.

    1. If only the DA prosecuted our section. we were informed recently they would no longer be doing so. Selective law enforcement…awesome.

  7. He should’ve been arrested for a MFA. He subjected all responding units to a great amount of risk for nothing, then admitted to it. What if another box came in? What if there was an accident? What if someone was hurt/killed due to the response? People have died because of MFA’s yet the justice system doesn’t think it’s worth arresting or prosecuting offenders. At least not until one of their family members is affected.

  8. He should’ve been arrested for a MFA. He subjected all responding units to a great amount of risk for nothing, then admitted to it. What if another box came in? What if there was an accident? What if someone was hurt/killed due to the response? People have died because of MFA’s yet the justice system doesn’t think it’s worth arresting or prosecuting offenders. At least not until one of their family members is affected.

  9. Justin…ever seen Farris Buehlers day off…that phone call part reminds me of when they call the restaurant on the other line….perhaps you should have told him your name was Abe Froman

    1. That would be lying, something I never do. I’m debating whether to make them sign AMA if they want to go against my advice. Think the Q/A has a box for that?

  10. Justin…ever seen Farris Buehlers day off…that phone call part reminds me of when they call the restaurant on the other line….perhaps you should have told him your name was Abe Froman

    1. That would be lying, something I never do. I’m debating whether to make them sign AMA if they want to go against my advice. Think the Q/A has a box for that?

  11. If he has no injuries how does he constitute a patient? If he is not a patient what medical advice is he going against?

    1. Fire2Mark, this person stated he had an injury, which takes priority over my observations in the definition of patient. he signed our “Patient Declines Transport” form, not our AMA form. My AMA comment was geared towards those who demand transport without a complaint and get it. That is against my medical advice.

      Thanks for reading.

  12. If he has no injuries how does he constitute a patient? If he is not a patient what medical advice is he going against?

    1. Fire2Mark, this person stated he had an injury, which takes priority over my observations in the definition of patient. he signed our “Patient Declines Transport” form, not our AMA form. My AMA comment was geared towards those who demand transport without a complaint and get it. That is against my medical advice.

      Thanks for reading.

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