Emergency Runs

Residents want assurances that when a medical emergency occurs and minutes can be the difference between life and death, an ambulance with qualified responders will be quickly dispatched.

This is usually the case, but sometimes for reasons beyond anyone’s control the response is delayed.

However, Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp and Vienna Volunteer Fire Chief Steve Scholl met with Wood County commissioners on Monday to discuss a situation that occurred on Sept. 2, an incident that should never be allowed to happen no matter what the circumstances.

On Sept. 2, there was a 911 callout to a Vienna address for an unresponsive woman. The ambulance that usually serves Vienna was on a non-emergency patient transfer and not available. And, apparently, no other units were available. The nearest ambulance available was in Wirt County at least an hour away.

The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department is not a medical responder, but was called out to “see if there was anything we could do,” Chief Scholl told the commissioners Monday during a discussion of the incident. By the time the Vienna firefighters arrived, the woman was “holding on by a thread,” he said. The Parkersburg Fire Department also was called and eventually transported the woman to the hospital where she later died.

According to Carl Sizemore, the Wood County 911 center assistant director, the center averages 1,100 ambulance calls every month. If a call is received, an ambulance is required to be sent even in non-life threatening situations.

Representatives of St. Joseph’s Ambulance Service say seven crews are available for runs every day. While many ambulance transport calls are common and can be scheduled ahead of time, emergency calls, obviously, cannot.

The commissioners asked the county 911 committee to review policies and procedures to ensure this does not happen again and to report its findings on Oct. 21.

The Vienna incident on Sept. 2 appears to be the perfect storm of bad circumstances. No one has said whether the delay contributed to this woman’s death.

We agree with Mayor Rapp.

“It an unacceptable situation,” he told the commissioners. “I understand you can’t schedule emergencies, but we have life or death situations and there needs to be another ambulance that needs to be there.”