The Drama Continues In Pittsburgh

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City public safety director questioned on snow response

A Pittsburgh City Council task force’s long-awaited interview with Public Safety Director Michael Huss regarding February’s snow emergency focused today on problems with communications, tire chains and electricity at city facilities.

It also had its testy moments.

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak reminded Mr. Huss that she had asked him seven times to meet with her Task Force on Emergency Operations and Snow Preparedness before issuing the subpoena that finally prompted his attendance.

Huss of course had a reply, forgetting that as an appointed public official, he is responsible to the elected public officials whose job it is to represent the interests of the voters.

Read the whole thing yourself, I’m just too flabbergasted at the combination of incompetence and arrogance that Huss shows. Not to mention his obvious contempt for the City Council.

Here’s more,
What Went Wrong? Safety Director Testifies About ‘Snowmageddon’ Response

But remember, it was all just the paramedics’ fault, not bad or no planning by those in charge.

14 COMMENTS

  1. It appears that he ordered everyone who answers to him to be at this meeting.I'm sorry for ignoring your invitations to talk about how I screwed up. I am now ready to talk, as long as I have a bunch of people to use to deflect blame. I realize that they have more important things to do than to be thrown under the bus to protect me, but it is a tradition with me. Next year, during the Mayor's birthday party, we will throw some virgins into a volcano – of course, it won't be a volcano in Pittsburgh. We don't want to risk getting stuck on unplowed roads.

  2. Good thing Pittsburgh has non-fire EMS, because God only knows how many people would be ignored if the medics worked for the fire department.

  3. Anonymous,Good point. After all, when the problem is crews following the direction of dispatch to be canceled, FD/EMS never does what dispatch says to do. Y'all are just a rowdy bunch of anarchists.

  4. Handy excuse, that. Blame dispatch."He ain't (expletive) comin' down, and I ain't waiting all day for him," acting crew chief Josie Dimon, whose unit responded to Mitchell's home, said on tape. "I mean, what the (expletive)? This ain't no cab service."What good is all that training if you are too lazy to use it? Sorry Rogue, but the EMS agency really dropped the ball with this one.Read this timeline:4:59 a.m.: EMS District Chief Norman Auvil, advised of pending call to Mr. Mitchell's home, says, "How about that? He can wait."4:59 a.m.: EMS District Chief Norman Auvil, advised of pending call to Mr. Mitchell's home, says, "How about that? He can wait."4:59 a.m. EMS District Chief Normal Avul, advised of pending call to Mr. Mitchell's home, says, "How about that? He can wait."Those aren't dispatchers. At least 2 supervisors blew off this caller. Sounds like you can lay a lot of this at the feet of EMS here, not dispatch.In our system, we make contact with EVERY caller, even if they request we cancel by phone. Why should the criteria for refusal be any different over the telephone than it is in person?

  5. Divemedic, you raise a good point. It's not at all inconsistent with what RM and I have said from the beginning. The individual medics are being scapegoated for what is clearly a systemic problem. What's not so clear is if this was a result of the unprecedented call demand during an almost unprecedented blizzard. A cancel request, at least in our system, is different than a refusal because patient contact has not been made. That can vary widely from state to state, or even system to system. That doesn't mean that the Pittsburgh policy is better or worse than yours. It's just different.

  6. That doesn't mean that the Pittsburgh policy is better or worse than yours. It's just different. EXACTLY my point. That doesn't meant that fire based EMS systems are any better or worse than EMS only systems- just different.Of course that fact didn't stop you both from comparing fire based EMS to surgeons who also work as accountants.

  7. Not the same at all. Look at the evidence in terms of medical oversight, missed esophageal intubations, intubation success rates and you'll see a big difference between fire based systems and third service and hospital based systems.

  8. Are we comparing apples to apples? Are we comparing EMS to a fire department that runs 4 calls a shift and turns the patient over to whoever is doing the transporting within 10 minutes, or one that (like mine)averages 12 calls a shift and transports? Are we comparing them interfacility medics who never start an IV, or to RN flight medics who spend the time between calls working in the trauma room?What study? Parameters? Link? Results? I have not seen a study that compares fire based and not fire based systems.AS an instructor, I see medics from all over the southeast who work for fire, and who do not. I have not seen a significant difference between them.Heck, the winning team at Clincon's Advanced Life Support Competition in 2009 was Miami Dade Fire rescue. Port Orange Fire Rescue won in 2008. Until I see a reputable study, your opinion is just that.

  9. A fire service that responds but doesn't transport is a first responder agency even if they provide ALS. Despite what the IAFF and IAFC (same thing to me) say, transport is an integral component of an EMS system. I've seen Miami-Dade in action. Really nice people, but not really good medics in the real world. Contests such as Clincon don't reflect the real world any more than scenarios in medic school do.For studies, look at the Gausche-Hill LA County pedi intubation study. There are others out there, but I think a confounding factor is that a lot of fire based services don't report their data. That's if they collect it.

  10. Divemedic,You are highlighting the comments made. While I agree that the comments are inappropriate, the comments did not kill Mr. Mitchell. EMS did not refuse to go to the residence. EMS was dispatched 3 times. 3 times EMS was canceled by dispatch and dispatched to other patients.On one of the calls, a 4 wheel drive vehicle was dispatched to assist, but was canceled when the call was canceled.If you are dispatched to a call, but are canceled by the caller, are you required to ignore all other calls until you make physical contact with the original caller?

  11. Divemedic,Of course that fact didn't stop you both from comparing fire based EMS to surgeons who also work as accountants. Cross training is perfectly acceptable, if you do not view your primary job as worthy of full-time attention.

  12. Heck, the winning team at Clincon's Advanced Life Support Competition in 2009 was Miami Dade Fire rescue. Port Orange Fire Rescue won in 2008. Good for them. They proved that in what amounts to a footrace with fictional scenarios thrown in, they can successfully complete tasks to National Registry standards (which doesn't care how good you are as long as you hit every item on the cookbook).*clap……….clap*………clap*Doesn't make them good paramedics. It just means they put together a team that practiced speeding through fictional scenarios based on intel from past competitions. It certainly doesn't validate a response model. Come on.

  13. Here's why I don't like fire-based EMS (strictly from a system management perspective): a friend of mine works a second job as a FF in a suburban fire department. He was hired because he was a paramedic, with significant experience in a busy urban system. This guy is one of the best paramedics I've ever had the honor of working with (and that's saying a lot, as I'd put most of the medics in my system up against anyone else in the country).He went to drill school, did his FF probation, etc. He spends >50% of his work time assigned to an ambulance (not necessarily by choice; he just works where he's told to), but also does just fine as a firefighter when he's assigned to a suppression unit. When it came time for promotions, he TOPPED THE LIST, but was passed over, because "they" were looking for someone more "suppression-based".So. Think there might be some institutional bias here?Arguments can be made for or against any service model. As long as the practitioners and the service are focused on providing excellent care, I don't think it really matters. When people are cross-trained so they can get 17% more pay (based on an IAFF study), then something's wrong and I sure as hell don't want them anywhere near me, my family or even my dog.

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