Source: Sherman Publications

Ambulance response time shameful, inexcusable
Local official says help to injured football player took too long

by David Fleet

January 18, 2012

Atlas Twp.- The response time of a local ambulance company to an injured player during a Goodrich High School football game last fall has come under fire by at least one township official.

Township Supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones referred during the Jan. 17 board meeting to an incident at the Goodrich Homecoming game on Sept. 30, 2011.

With the Martians up 14-0 and 6:09 left in the second quarter, Lake Fenton defensive back Matt Hommer had head-to-head contact with a Goodrich player. Following the collision, Hommer, a junior, laid on the field in rainy, cool conditions for more than 30 minutes while coaches and trainers attended to his injuries. Genesee County Sheriff paramedics were called and arrived just prior to the arrival of a Swartz Ambulance. Hommer was stabilized and taken off the field on a stretcher. The game and halftime activities were delayed for about an hour. He was transported to Genesys Regional Medical Center for treatment.

The length of time Hommer laid on the field prompted Kautman-Jones to express her concerns to Bruce Trevithick, executive director of the Genesee County Medical Control Authority.

The exact time that elapsed while Hommer waited was unknown.

“The untimely response of an ambulance was inexcusable and quite honestly shameful,” said Kautman-Jones in the letter. “As an outlying rural community, I must say we have had concerns raised by residents on several instances of their personal experiences related to ambulance response times. But this event was experienced by well over 1,000 spectators.”

Hommer left the hospital the following morning (Oct.1) under his own power, reported Todd Reynolds, Lake Fenton High School principal. He returned to school on Monday.

“If I need an ambulance I don’t care if they come on a rocket ship,” said Kautman-Jones during the Monday township board of trustees meeting when the issue was discussed. “In the case of the (Lake Fenton) football player—there was no hiding we had 1,000 people watching.”

Trevithick responded to the incident following the Genesee County Medical Control Authority’s Professional Standards Review Organization (PSRO) investigation in October.

“The PSRO has conducted its investigation and this case is now closed,” said Trevithick. “The PSRO is a group of 12 individuals including directors of hospitals and other in the medical arena. We investigate anywhere from five to 12 cases per month, but because it’s peer review, it’s confidential. Thus any details of the incident, whether right or wrong, would not be public. However, if there was a criminal case, then that would be reported.”

Trevithick said incidents like the injured Lake Fenton football player are unique.

“When this happens it’s very frightening,” he said. “People’s sense of time is exaggerated—what seems like an hour is a few minutes. We get this all the time. It was not as long as you’d think.”

Due to the rural nature of the township, the response time is a matter of money, suggested Trevithick.

“The private ambulance companies are going to be where there’s a high volume of calls. They (ambulances) will cluster in areas to get as many calls as they can.”

Lloyd Fayling, 9-1-1 director for Genesee County, said later this year a new mode of EMS dispatch could be in place that could speed service to the southeastern regions of the county.

Under the plan, each ambulance that wishes to participate will be required to have an 800 MHz radio along with an automatic vehicle locator (AVL) in each unit. Currently 13 ambulance companies with 36 units are active in Genesee County.

Currently in Atlas Township, the closest ambulance services are available in Grand Blanc, Davison and Groveland Township.

Fayling said Genesee County has invested $13 million into the radio base that uses the AVL, similar to GPS, which can update central dispatch every quarter mile of the location of a unit.

The AVL project has had some problems and may not be operational until late this year.