Friday, August 27, 2010

This above all: To thine own ass be true (or just "CYA")

Warning: Mild rant ensues.

To recap what I am for my newer readers ( I think I am up to 4 now): by day I work as a professional technical person and evenings and weekends I volunteer as a Firefighter and an EMT. I am a pro-board certified Fire Instructor and teach in my 'free time' from fall to spring and also for my Department where I also serve as an Officer. At my paying job I also serve as the company EMT although this is not part of my job description, I just do it and provide advice on pre-plans, do some training (CPR, AED, Bloodbourne, etc.) and many other odds and ends that escape me at the moment. I have worked in this techncal field for nearly 40 years now and like to think I have gained some experience in the types of accidents and injuries that occur in our workplace. Yes, I have seen some bizarre and ugly stuff. Machinery can do a real number on the human anatomy in short order. Lets just say that I have an idea of what to expect along with the normal medical stuff.
 My current employer is a worldwide company that has 'standards' for everything and especially Health and Safety.. To be honest, they go way overboard on a lot of stuff, but on the whole I see it as a good thing compared to many (most) companies I have worked for that really didn't want to spend more than $20.00 on a first aid kit and no time or money for training. At this job they bought me a trauma bag and filled it with what I requested (all BLS stuff for the first 10 minutes of the job, that's all I need). But they drew a BIG RED LINE when I asked for an O2 bottle and some NRB's. They cited everything from pressurized containers being dangerous, needing a prescription, and how it was a flammable gas. I explianed that the corporate policy clearly states that 'If a facility has personnel with advanced medical training (MFR, EMT, RN, or MD) then the facility should provide equipment and supplies suitable for their level of training". "It's policy", I said. 'Nothing doing', they said, 'Too much liability'. I asked the company what they were going to say in court when somebody's spouse sued the company because their loved one died at work and we didn't have what we needed to do what we had to do. I got a blank look and was refereed to Corporate Headquarters, they referred me to the corporate industrial hygienist, who dutifully repeated that it wasn't going to happen. "You could do something wrong and we could be sued". I rolled my eyes (she couldn't see it from 5 states away) and I resisted the urge to say "yeah, are right patients suffering MI's, angina, and asthma are dropping every day because some fool gives them Oxygen".
 So I asked her "why is it that these industrial first aid company's are advertising in all the safety magazines that the FDA has approved portable Oxygen to be sold without a prescription if it is capable of delivering at least 6 LPM and will last at least 15 minutes. You just order it, and it comes, complete with a nifty wall cabinet to hang next to your AED. She said she wouldn't know about that and anyway, it does not apply in our state. I said "you really SHOULD know about that and find out if it applies in our state as well as the other 49 we have facilities in.
 I explained that my risk assessment of the population revealed a highest potential is for diabetic emergencies and cardiac emergencies, followed by asthmatic problems. I have had 3 in the last 6 months. (See this post and the ones that followed it.) I was trying to have the proper tools to mitigate the highest risk. She advised me to continue my current practice of keeping an O2 tank in my POV and using it as needed, that way it's my ass and not the company's. I told her I wasn't too concerned about my ass, I was thinking of my patients ass, or more accurately their well being.
I chatted with the nurse a little more and found out she had E/D experience. I asked if she had ever worked 'out in the field' and she said "oh yeah, once I had to care for a patient on an international flight with absolutely nothing to work with. Worst 5 hours of my life". I empathized, "Yeah it's tough. Those of us in EMS do that everyday, but we have our tools, and we get pretty good at working in tough situations, that is, when somebody isn't keeping us away from our tools." I paused, then added "just like you are doing now." Bureaucrats.

1 comment:

  1. New reader? That's me! That's ME! You're talking about MEE!!!

    I feel special..

    And I agree any large sized work place needs an oxygen supply... just in case... you never know what might happen...