Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Pittsburgh – Punishment, not Planning

So much attention has been placed on the recording of phone calls between the 911 center and paramedics, that nobody seems to have any interest in preventing problems during future disaster conditions.

Did any comment by any paramedic during any phone conversation make any difference in the outcome?

No.

Curtis Mitchell would still be dead, even if they did not have cellular phones.

I was working in that storm. I was wet, cold, and frustrated. I was fortunate that I did not have the same problems reaching any patients. I did not make any inappropriate comments on a recorded phone line.

Nobody can confirm that, because none of my patients had any bad outcome that might lead management to try to blame the outcome on my phone conversation.

The release of the phone recording benefits people who are trying to scapegoat the medics.

The release of the phone recording does nothing to prevent this from happening again.

Have I made inappropriate comments at times, due to working under very difficult circumstances?

No!

Of course not!

Never!

I’m perfect!

How dare those evil medics make other medics look bad!

Now that I have your attention, there is a nice bridge that I would like to sell you. Today there is a special price. If you act now, I will throw in some gorgeous swamp land at no extra cost. . . .

The truth is a bit different.

I have made inappropriate comments.

Few of us have not.

Many of us may claim that we would never say anything like what said was on the recording, but how many of us can prove it. How many of us really have made other inappropriate comments.

People make mistakes.

Discipline is about learning from mistakes.

Discipline is about preventing future mistakes.

If you think discipline is about punishment, you do not understand discipline.

Imagine if someone were to release selected portions of your phone conversations from work.

Even better.

Imagine if we were able to listen to selected portions of the phone conversations between Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Public Safety Director Michael Huss from that weekend.

Maybe that would not be comfortable to listen to, either.

When talking on a recorded line, we should always talk with the expectation that the recording will be played back in a courtroom, with the most devious lawyer possible spinning the story to make us look worse than Charles Manson on an especially evil day.

We need to avoid giving in to that emotional appeal to punish somebody because something does not sound good.

Why was EMS frustrated?

No plows.

Fewer crews.

Several times the number of patients.

The worst snow storm in over a century.

Oh, what about 1993?

1993? When there were many more people to drive plows?

1993? When there were many more 4 wheel drive plows?

1993? When the snow was heavy, but not turning to ice?

1993? When plows were actually sent to assist EMS?

1993?[1]

I can’t imagine why anyone would be frustrated under these circumstances.

The medical director investigated and did not blame the medics.

The state investigated and did not blame the medics.

Sharon Edge (Curtis Mitchell’s widow) does not blame the medics.

Maybe they know something that all of the people blaming the medics do not know.

Snow plows are for wimps!

We don’t need no stinkin’ snow plows!

Too Old To Work, Too Young To Retire also has a bit to say about this decision to fire someone for a phone conversation. Human Sacrifice.

Maybe you think that TOTWTYTR and I are a bunch of touchy feely, it’s all about feeling good about what you did – not about the result kind of people. We aren’t any good at coddling incompetents. We are usually the ones criticizing the incompetence.

Late addition – 3/24/10 17:56 David Konig writes about this in The Assassination Of Pittsburgh EMS By The Coward Michael Huss. He makes some excellent points, such as –

So if these standards are higher, why are they secret? I would think that is something the Mayor would be proud of… unless he thinks that he can just conjure up higher standards after the event and make them retroactive.

I have also written about this here –

City may discipline EMS workers – Public Safety Director Michael Huss – 02/18/10

Where Was Public Safety Director Michael Huss during the Death of Curtis Mitchell? – 02/20/10

Public Safety Director Michael Huss and Others Continue to Blame the Medics for the Snow – 02/22/10

The Need for Evidence Before Assessing Guilt – 02/24/10

Anonymous Comments on the Death of Curtis Mitchell – 03/02/10

Podcasting, Critical Judgment, and the Death of Curtis Mitchell Part I – 03/22/10

Podcasting, Critical Judgment, and the Death of Curtis Mitchell Part II – 03/22/10

Podcasting, Critical Judgment, and the Death of Curtis Mitchell Part III – 03/22/10

What kind of punishment do you get for NOT disobeying dispatch? – 03/23/10

The Scapegoats Will Be Punished – 03/23/10

Pittsburgh – Punishment, not Planning – 03/24/10

Josie Dimon was the Scapegoat of Public Safety Director Michael Huss in the Death of Curtis Mitchell – 02/16/11

Michael Huss – Pittsburgh EMS Only Needs Someone Good With a Shovel – 02/16/11

Links updated 02/16/11.

Footnotes:

[1] Cascade of Failures Paralyzed Pittsburgh During Snowstorm
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
by Carl Prine
Posted: Sunday, February 21, 2010
Updated: February 22nd, 2010 04:57 PM EDT
Article

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