Former EMT reacts to Stokes AMR controversy
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A Jackson councilman questioned the policy that prevents paramedics from entering an unsecured crime scene after treatment was reportedly delayed following a shooting.
A former EMT who knows the dangers first responders face and believes in the practice of waiting for police.
"You can't let citizens die or sit here wounded because you're saying you're not safe," said Jackson Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes.
Stokes has sparked outrage from the public and emergency medical professionals with his call for AMR to end its contract with the city if first responders don't provide immediate care upon arriving at a scene.
The controversy centers around last Friday night's shooting at the Pleasant Oaks Apartments where 25 year old Lee Joseph Martin was shot and according to Stokes had to wait 23 minutes until police secured the area.
But American Medical Response spokesman Jim Pollard said policy prohibits paramedics from entering an area particularly a shooting like last Friday's without police security.
"I don't know of any ambulance service in the nation that encourages its EMTs or medics to enter dangerous scenes," said Pollard.
Former Pearl Fire Chief and former EMT Danny Waggoner agrees.
"That's just a policy of what everyone has come up with to try to prevent the medical personnel form getting injured or killed," said Waggoner.
He started as an EMT in the 1970's before rising through the ranks at the fire department.
The former emergency medical technician said the increase in violence has forced paramedics to change the way they react to emergencies.
Those first responders say they enter danger zones when trying to help victims and sometimes can become targets themselves.
Experts say it is common to encounter threats and attacks when responding to domestic violence and mentally unstable patient calls.
Early in Waggoner's career he was called to an unknown injury where an man was lying on the ground.
"And I noticed a spot on his shirt, and it was a hole in it, a dark spot. And I said 'Who shot this man?' And this woman said 'I did. why," said the retired fire chief.
The woman was holding a gun.
Waggoner and his partner backed away and called Pearl police.
First responders are also taught that while administering life saving help they must also be constantly aware of their surroundings.
"This is the reason that we do not run up into situations for our protection so we can help the people," said Waggoner.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the work of EMTs is not only physically strenuous and stressful but sometimes involves life or death situations.
They also experienced a larger than average number of work related injuries or illnesses.
In 2008 there were more than 210,000 EMTs and paramedics nationwide.
AMR officials said they have asked to speak with Councilman Stokes about his concerns over their safety policy.
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