Magazine article Security Management

Are Emergency Medical Services a Priority?

Magazine article Security Management

Are Emergency Medical Services a Priority?

Article excerpt

RECENTLY, I WAS sitting in the visitor's lobby of a major urban teaching hospital when someone came in and told the receptionist that a man had passed out in front of the entrance. The receptionist dialed several numbers on the telephone, explaining the situation each time and apparently being referred to someone else. Because I am a certified emergency medical technician, I went outside to see whether I could assist the ill man. I was joined by a hospital security officer.

The victim's wife informed us that her husband had a heart condition and had just been released from the hospital. The officer contacted his control center by radio, and the dispatcher said that he would try to notify medical personnel.

I waited with the patient, whose condition was deteriorating, for at least fifteen minutes. I then told the security officer that I was going to go to a pay phone and call 911 for outside help. It was at that point that a nurse from the emergency department came out with a wheelchair.

I was amazed by the hospital's response. It either lacked an internal emergency response plan or had failed to put it into action. This facility is renowned for its research and quality medical services. It would have been embarrassing for someone to call 911 from inside the hospital to request that an ambulance be dispatched to the front door to pick up a patient who had just been discharged and bring him around to the emergency room--or worse yet, to another hospital.

The role of security in any organization is to protect that organization's assets, both tangible and intangible. Reputation is an organizational asset that requires vigilant protection.

Although hospitals have a unique medical mission and environment which make this incident seem particularly dramatic, this event could have occurred at any type of facility. It illustrates the importance of a plan for medical emergency management.

Reputation is not the only asset jeopardized by a weak emergency medical management program. The mishandling of illness and injuries that occur on a facility's premises is a major source of premises liability. Being committed to effective emergency medical management not only saves lives and is morally right, it enhances reputation, reduces liability, is good for business, and bolsters employee morale.

Security is usually the first department that is notified when any type of emergency occurs at a facility. Medical emergencies are inevitable and all security departments must be prepared to deal with them.

The key to effective emergency medical management is planning. …

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