July 4, 2020

Facts & Figures from Old Lyme EMS; Falls Dominate List of Reasons for Ambulance Call-Outs

You’ve seen their ambulances around town but do you know how many calls they respond to in a month?

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme EMS Ambulance Service responded to 74 calls in November 2019 and 70 in December 2019.

Breathing Issues 56
Abdominal pain22
Chest Pain33
Cardiac Arrest03
Altered Mental Status04
Traffic accident/MVA1610
Medical Device - alarm61
Hazardous Material (Fumes, etc.)00
Stand-by (Fire, etc.)31
Lift Assistance00
Fire - EMS for patients/firemen21
Cold exposure00
Allergic Reaction00
Psychiatric/Behavioral Health74

Following Up On Falls — Why They Happen, How to Avoid Them, What to Do If they Happen

Falls came in as the number one reason for ambulance call-outs in December and number two in November.

Falls can be caused by a myriad of reasons including falling out of a bed, off of a ladder, or down stairs; or slipping on a wet floor, snow/ice, or toys; or a medical reasonsuch as a changed or new medication resulting in a loss of balance.

If you have a walking frame, always use it to avoid falls.

Many falls are preventable if people would simply take a second to ask themselves if they should take the risk of going up the ladder, or call someone to help instead. Similarly, taking a few steps without a walker or cane when you normally use one, or making a snap decision to run out and get the mail in the snow without putting on the proper boots to avoid a slip can have disastrous consequences.

The amount of time it takes to think about a quick action like those mentioned is much shorter than the time it will taketo recover from an injury. Ask yourself if the risk is worth it or would it better to wait?

Although falls happen at any age, records show that 32,000 seniors fall each year causing detrimental injuries to themselves. With aging bodies, these injuries can be both life-altering and extremely costly to treat.

Whatever the injury, when you call 911, you can be assured that Old Lyme EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technician) and EMR’s (Emergency Medical Responders) are trained to the National Education Standards. Moreover, every EMT or EMR in the United States is trained to the exact same level by means of monthly mandatory and elective training sessions. (Our training will be the subject of another article.)

After a fall, if you are in a safe place, it is best not to move. Emergency Medical Service providers will evaluate the mechanism of injury, including

  • CMS (Circulatory, Motor and Sensory)-evaluation
  • obtaining vital signs to rule out any possible medical reasons for the fall
  • asking the patient or witness(es) full details of the fall/injury, recent pertinent medical issues and medication list.

Another way to avoid falls is to use the facilities provided by stores andbusinesses to assist you.

Once on the scene, it should take about 10 minutes in total to evaluate the reason for fall, take vitals, and stabilize any injuries for transport.

There may be times when a patient has hit his/her head and experienced a severe injury or bleed. This is when the 911 dispatcher will also send a paramedic to the scene — typically a paramedic from the Middlesex Health Medical Center in Westbrook.

Emergency Medical Technicians and EMR’s make up the body of a volunteer ambulance organization for BLS (Basic Life Support) whereas Paramedics provide ALS (Advanced Life Support.)

The paramedic will perform an advanced evaluation. Paramedics are ‘advanced’ EMT’s, who are able to run an EKG, intubate the airway, start an IV, administer medications, and more.

If paramedics find it necessary to stay with the patient for advanced care and transport with the EMT/EMR’s, they take over the care of the patient supported by BLS assistance frm the EMT/EMR’s.

An Important Reminder About ‘Lift Assists’

There may be a time when a patient has fallen and — whether elderly or not — is unable to get up. Under those circumstances, you can call 911 and request a ‘Lift Assist.’ An ambulance crew will respond to the scene, evaluate the patient’s vitals and ensure the patient is stable other than needing to be assisted and helped to their requested place, e.g. bed, chair, wheelchair.

There is no charge for this assistance — it is a community service. In the event additional manpower is required, 911 dispatchers will put out a call requesting additional EMS crew and/or volunteer firemen.

After evaluating a patient, if it is felt that the patient requires more than just a ‘Lift Assist,’ transportation will be provided.

If you have an interest in joining OLEMS to receive training as an EMR or EMT, call 860-434-0089 or stop by the Cross Lane Fire/EMS building Monday through Friday from 6 a.m.to 5 p.m. for more information. (The office will be manned unless the day crew is out on a call.)


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