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Community Comment

Tue., April 20, 2010, 4:22 a.m.

No on the EMS Levy,EMR,Fire Department

Good morning Netizens...

One might ask why a doddering old goat like me would be sitting here before the endless maw of the keyboard on an otherwise spectacular spring morning with temperatures nearly 60 degrees. I have been contemplating Larry Shook's excellent piece of journalism, and then doing a modest amount of research to validate everything associated with the EMS Levy about to be submitted to the voters in a short time.

This is about fraud in Spokane's Fire Department and American Medical Response
Ambulance, and that is just a smaller part of the problem. We haven't even touched on the debts of River Park Square.

During former Mayor Dennis Hession's term of office American Medical Response Ambulance Service (AMR) got caught gouging Spokane’s ambulance users to such an extent, the city was entitled to levy fines of $80 million against the company. Instead, Hession fined the company a tenth of a percent of that amount, $80,000. I had blithely assumed until now that lawsuit had been paid, but Shook's article asserts that the class action lawsuit is still not paid.

But not only is the fraud with which AMR infects Spokane’s fire service a fiscal rip-off, it’s a physical killer. According to a study comparing emergency ambulance services in Seattle and Spokane the survival rate for “code call” emergencies in Seattle is 45%, they say. In Spokane, it is 8%.

When somebody calls for an ambulance in Spokane, the first sign of help you see is a big fire truck, sirens and lights blazing away. They're going to save a life. It is just a big farce. The firemen stand around until AMR arrives and hauls you off to the hospital. Maybe they will administer oxygen; maybe not. Based upon my experience with AMR, the chances are it probably will be the wrong hospital.

During a heart attack several years ago, I was hauled unceremoniously by AMR from place to place like a slab of meat for a heart Catheterization. First I went from Holy Family to Deaconess, but the cardiac table at Deaconess wasn't big enough for my portly fatbody. Eventually I was billed for a third ambulance ride to Sacred Heart where the Catheterization was eventually performed. AMR charged for three rides for that, you know, and three hospital bills.

I never rode in an AMR ambulance again. My next heart attack I rode in a friend's pickup truck at nearly 90 miles per hour. To Hell with AMR. To Hell with the EMS Levy. I don't like paying for the same service twice.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.