Chasing Ambulances

Gold star: Great article and journalism ["A Gap in Coverage," by Josh Harkinson, July 14]. As a 30-year medic and 22-year RN, I've seen many of the things occurring at GoldStar happen elsewhere with distressing frequency. Until emergency medical services are considered as equal with fire and law enforcement services, calling 911 for medical assistance will continue to be a big question mark.

Larry Nelson

Widespread abuse: It was interesting to read such a well-written article that covered some of the issues facing private EMS companies. I can only speak for the southeast Texas area; I've worked in it as a paramedic for approximately 20 years, ten of which were in association with private services. I can attest to the fact that the companies I worked for during those years did indeed frequently coerce medics into documenting the runsheets in a way that was not forthcoming as to the way the call actually went...shall we say, in order to obtain payment from Medicare/Medicaid. I would not do this and was labeled a non-team player. I was frequently told I needed to change my attitude, which in actuality meant I needed to lie. We were told in more than one staff meeting that if we did not do this, we were putting everyone's jobs in jeopardy.

I can't begin to tell you how many dialysis patients we transported who easily could have gone by private vehicle or bus. I have been told to run emergency traffic through the middle of town so that the public would perceive we were busy making calls (this when there was no patient, and certainly no emergency). I have seen 911 calls hold for 45 minutes for a unit to come from another town when another service had a unit available that could take the call with a much shorter response time. If the general public had a clue the way many private services historically operate, I believe they would not be as apathetic toward the emergency care available in much of this area.

For the most part, the root of the problem lies in management, not with the people who deliver the care. Most of the medics begin their careers with the best of intentions, only to discover that in private EMS, quality patient care is not by any means the top priority. These are not statements made by a disgruntled person; I'd guess that if someone dared investigate the state of private EMS and talked with medics who've been in the business for more than a year or so, they'd be overwhelmed by stories such as these. A few are providing a valuable service, but unfortunately, more are abusing the system. With our population aging, the problem will grow only larger unless steps are taken. GoldStar is not the only one with its hand in the till -- it's just the first to get caught in a big way.

Katherine Foote

Angry Artist

Get over yourself: To JonMarc Edwards [Letters, July 14]:

Woo, another angry enfant terrible. Spiritual? Philosophical? Huh? Move over, Kelly. I'm also drowning in "subjective glop" on that lower level of dumb.

Remember your art training, JonMarc? Decent technique is not necessarily art. You didn't cotton to Kelly Klaasmeyer's "Art Lite" review [June 30]? Okay, here's a solution: Turn your technique (not bad in this arena) into form and content that draws me back for a second peek. Perhaps then, what you call "spiritual" and "philosophical" will come across as a step above Martha Stewart tablecloth decor. Get over yourself, kiddo. A little maturity couldn't hurt. Quit the defensive posturing and your nah-nah response to us dummies who don't getcha.

And to Kelly, the voice of reason: Seems we've eaten the same flavor Pop-Tart.

Jacquie Dodes-Walter


The name of artist Frances Trotter was misspelled in the July 14 Night & Day article "Let's Be Unreasonable."

The Press regrets the error.

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