Gibson: ‘People are dying ’ - Council discusses emergency needs on Marco

City Council takes up issue of emergency transport

Bob Rowe addresses the City Council on the need for improvements in emergency medical transportation at its meeting Tuesday evening.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Bob Rowe addresses the City Council on the need for improvements in emergency medical transportation at its meeting Tuesday evening. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Fire Chief Mike Murphy lays out a proposal for emergency medical transport at the City Council meeting Tuesday evening.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Fire Chief Mike Murphy lays out a proposal for emergency medical transport at the City Council meeting Tuesday evening. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

“Please do the right thing, so my friend will not have passed in vain.”

Tuesday evening, the Marco Island City Council heard impassioned testimony from Bob Rowe, whose friend, Paul Anderson, died when red tape and questions of jurisdiction delayed him getting a prompt ambulance ride to the hospital. The case has already brought about a reshuffling in how emergency medical transportation is handled on the island, with NCH bowing out of the task, and that evening, the Council listened to a proposal from Marco Fire/Rescue Chief Mike Murphy on a plan to improve the system, and the outcomes for the patients who may suddenly find their lives depending on it.

There is no doubt in his mind, he told the councilmen, the existing conditions in EMS transport are inadequate and potentially dangerous.

“We don’t believe we’re getting proper support from the county,” said Murphy. “We don’t believe our people have the tools they need.”

The current system is fragmented, he said, with three different agencies providing parts of the service. Different vehicles are not provided with the same equipment, yet all use the same personnel and are used interchangeably. A private company received the right to transport emergency patients in less than 30 days, he said, while his department has not been allowed to take patients to the hospital.

“It’s astounding,” said Councilman Frank Recker. “We’ve been begging, waiting forever, and they approve a private company” with virtually no delay. “They can hold us to a higher, unreasonable standard?”

City Attorney Burt Saunders confirmed that, yes, counties have control over emergency medical services. Murphy said he, along with Council Vice Chairman Larry Magel and City Manager Jim Riviere, has been working with their counterparts in the City of Naples, and the Naples and North Naples fire departments, trying to devise an alternative to the status quo, that would allow fire department EMT personnel to become involved in patient transportation.

“This is a move to remove ourselves from the county?” concerning EMS, asked Councilman Joe Batte. “In light of the recent tragedy, I think that’s a good thing, but I’m concerned about the cost.

“I think we should move forward, but we need to know, will we be forced to pay the county, and also ask the citizens to pay?”

It would not be a complete wash, said Saunders. “Don’t expect all the money to come back.” He pointed out the county provides EMS services to Marco residents when they are elsewhere in the county.

And, added Chairman Jerry Gibson, “we won’t have a helicopter.”

“Certainly, the county is a backup to us,” said Murphy. “The bottom line is, we’re going to see an elevation of service our residents receive when they call 911.”

After Murphy’s presentation, a somber Bob Rowe took the lectern. “I’m here to speak on behalf of my friend, Paul Anderson,” he said. He took the Council through the morning of October 3, when Anderson died after waiting nearly an hour for an ambulance.

“I personally bear the shame and guilt of failing someone I love like my own father,” said Rowe, “but where does the culpability lie? I believe some involved were guilty of depraved indifference, under Statute 782.04.” Staff arrived late, a med-flight was cancelled, and “I was told to back off, or no one would get transported,” he said.

“Do the right thing. May the good Lord bless my dear friend.”

Diana Dahl added that the citizens of Marco Island deserve more than short-term solutions. A.K. Battaglia choked up, recounting her experience with medical care on Marco when her husband was ill.

“I learned about Urgent Care 15 over 15 years ago,” she said, saying it was not the place to go in a life-threatening emergency. “It should be renamed.”

Gibson had the last word on the subject. “I’m tired of financial people making decisions on health,” he said. “People are dying. We need to do something now to protect our own people’s health.”

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Comments » 8

OldMarcoMan writes:

But before we became a City we had a War in Vietnam ...... think about it !

OldMarcoMan writes:

I think as it ends up, history will show, America did win.

RealityChecker writes:

Gibson hasn't paid property taxes for years. He is a financial disaster. It is absurd that he has any say in the way we send our tax dollars. He is just a spend spend spend guy. It doesn't cost him anything. I am sure he would vote free drinks and cigarettes for everybody if he could.

I am surprised that the other freeloading council member hasn't jumped on this as well.

These two clowns owe the citizens of Marco Island tens of thousands of dollars. Why aren't we applying their pay checks to this debt?

marcofriend writes:

in response to RealityChecker:

Gibson hasn't paid property taxes for years. He is a financial disaster. It is absurd that he has any say in the way we send our tax dollars. He is just a spend spend spend guy. It doesn't cost him anything. I am sure he would vote free drinks and cigarettes for everybody if he could.

I am surprised that the other freeloading council member hasn't jumped on this as well.

These two clowns owe the citizens of Marco Island tens of thousands of dollars. Why aren't we applying their pay checks to this debt?

You should investigate a bit. We are now up to three City Councilors in foreclosure and they can make all the decisions for us including nice bike paths, new facilities at Mackle Park and anything else they want, and all this with just one extra vote; and they will pay nothing. I'm almost ready to give up and just move on.

dc5799 writes:

in response to RealityChecker:

Gibson hasn't paid property taxes for years. He is a financial disaster. It is absurd that he has any say in the way we send our tax dollars. He is just a spend spend spend guy. It doesn't cost him anything. I am sure he would vote free drinks and cigarettes for everybody if he could.

I am surprised that the other freeloading council member hasn't jumped on this as well.

These two clowns owe the citizens of Marco Island tens of thousands of dollars. Why aren't we applying their pay checks to this debt?

Who is the other council member? Time to clean house.

ajm3s writes:

I suspect those on Council believe that increase spending will result in better services. Or transfer of county monies for local control of EMS would result in efficient use of assets.

I say WATCH OUT!

The overarching debacle, the County EMS system failed to respond to a 911 request by the Urgent Care Center.

A 911 call from an
Urgent Care Center is to be treated with the same urgency as a call from a private residence. This is a dispatch and policy snafu!

Blaming the Urgent Care Center for not having a staff driver for a transport vehicle misses the real issue. The County DID NOT RESPOND TO A 911 EMERGENCY CALL.

All the surrounding discussions and lamentations of Urgent Care management do not address this simple fact. Think about it, a call was made from an Urgent Care Center (a professional medical facility) and the request was dismissed by a governmental agency charged with the task of allocating EMS.

This should not serve as a means to expand Marco Island services, review drug inventories or denounce private transport companies.

Folks, pay attention, there are political and power forces at play here. In the vernacular, kingdoms being formed and others destroyed. All because someone dismissed a 911 call.

Lets start with reviewing the cause of dismissing a 911 request. These outlying issues only complicate the climate, and may result in poorly identifying clear and simple solutions to a single 911 response debacle.

So I ask some Councillors to refrain from demeaning bean-counters; and emergency professionals from adding unrelated issues, etc to the mix.

It is a 911 response failure, so stay focused. Who you going to call? Ghostbusters!

islandlover11 writes:

Looks like the city wants to run an EMS crew and do transport now, how much will that end of costing us on top of the taxes we already pay.

marconed writes:

I can see it already. a five million dollar buildind,two transport vehicles,a staff of another 20 or so union employees.Dont laugh just look at our police force

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