Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Employees Botch First Aid, Snap at Helpful Rider

From Zack:

I am writing to share a troubling experience I just had with a Metro station manager and a medical emergency.  Around 3:20 I was coming down the escalator at Rosslyn and saw an elderly man face down next to the bottom of the escalator.  Two people were standing by him, and he was slowly getting up.

I saw someone start to run up the other side of the escalator.  When I got down, I confirmed he was already going for help from Metro employees, and I went to give a hand to the old man as the people watching him seemed overwhelmed.  He managed to get up, but was stumbling.  Quickly, he leaned on a trash can and spilled his bag he was carrying.  I noticed he was bleeding profusely, although it was unclear from where.  He couldn't explain what had happened or where he was, and his pupils were dilated.

My first aid license expired more than ten years ago, but it was profoundly obvious that he was either had a fairly severe concussion and perhaps worse.  I only go into this much detail because I never had the opportunity to convey any of what I had observed to the station manager. Two employees came, asked him questions which he was incapable of answering, and, I wish I was joking when I said this, but the next thing said after "where did you fall?" was, "Let's go upstairs and do some paperwork."  They then started carrying him to the elevator. I was shocked by this statement, and I said to the man, "I'm almost positive he has a bad concussion, you need to call an ambulance immediately."

What did I get for trying to convey the severity of the situation?  The station manager immediately snapped back "I *KNOW* what I need to do."

Like I said, my first aid certification is expired, but I do remember this: the first step is assessment.  You calm everyone down and try to figure out as much about what happened as you can, so you can relay.  Common sense, instinct, and what remained of my training told me that if you suspected a serious head injury you should not move the person.  This was later confirmed by two medical professionals (a nurse, and nurse practitioner). By so quickly moving the patient, the station manager both lost a chance to do a proper assessment, and quite possibly put the man at further medical risk.

I have a handful of questions based off this incident:

1) Do all station managers have first aid training?
2) If not, why is it not a requirement for every single station manager to have it? 
3) If so, why was their first concern asking the man to fill out paper work instead of first aid?  Why did they not spend even a minute trying to assess the nature of the injury?  Why did they move someone with a high chance of a severe head injury?

Finally, I don't need to be thanked for stopping for a couple of minutes to help the man.  But the fact that they rushed to move him to "do paperwork" belies the station manager's claim that he knew what he needed to do.  To snap at someone who is simply trying to help is unacceptable.  It'd be great if the station manager offered an apology, but I'm not holding my breath. 

Other items:
As reported here again and again, emergency intercoms don't work (NBC4)
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