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

- Rogue Medic

Podcasting, Critical Judgment, and the Death of Curtis Mitchell Part I


I have not been on any of the podcasts covering the Pittsburgh EMS response in the snow and ice, when Curtis Mitchell died. I just listened to the EMS Garage podcast that covered this as a part of the episode.

It seems that the less you know about what happened, the more you blame the medics. The topic seemed to be dominated by comments stating, the news said, or the news didn’t say.

Do we trust the news to get the story right?

Few people seem to be surprised at how little information was released.

Originally, the information released was that a couple of medics responded 3 times, but those medics refused to get out of their truck because they were lazy.

We now know that there were 6 different medics. The medics did not refuse to get out of the truck. The medics were canceled by dispatch. It appears that the crews were then reassigned to other patients, because they were running non-stop all day. Calls were waiting for ambulances to become available.

Running non-stop transporting patients in the snow and ice is somehow lazy?

This is to be expected during disaster conditions. This does not seem to be the experience of the critics, even though they claim to have extensive disaster experience.

These medics transported a lot of other patients.

How did the patients get to the hospital, if the medics did not get out of the truck?

How did the patients get to the hospital if these medics were lazy?

In this case, it appears that the media were fed misleading information by Public Safety Director Michael Huss. The man responsible for public safety essentially pointed his finger at the medics and squealed, They did it! They did it! They did it!

OK, squealed may not technically correct. That doesn’t mean that it is any less fair than anything Public Safety Director Michael Huss said. He is responsible for public safety, but apparently only when the sun is shining, but not too much sun.

Two mistakes, that many people have repeated –

The medics never got out of the truck.

And –

The medics never tried.

Does anyone have any evidence to support either statement?

Does anybody really think that this is true?

Why does anyone believe this?

Insanity?

Immaturity?

Gullibility?

Mass hallucination?

I believe that the reason is a lack of critical judgment.

Did any news report make either statement? If the medics did not get out of the truck, and no help was sent, who dug the ambulances out of the snow?

Public Safety Director Michael Huss did say something about the medics needing to get out of the truck, but is there any reason to believe that the words of Mr. Huss are at all credible?

The comments of Public Safety Director Michael Huss were what originally caught my attention. The comments remind me of a child trying to explain that he does not know what happened to the missing chocolate chip cookies, even though he is covered with melted chocolate.

Maybe the child is not guilty, but am I going to start looking for some mysterious stranger or maybe a cookie monster?

Still, this is the explanation that was repeated on the podcast. There was some dissent on the show, but the uninformed critics of the medics did seem to dominate the discussion. I like the EMS Garage. Chris Montera does a great job of encouraging discussion on important topics. This was a segment that will encourage people to blame the wrong people. This will encourage people to ignore disaster planning, because the medics can just get out of the truck and walk. The only way this is disaster planning, is by turning something that is not a disaster into a true disaster. Then management will blame the lowest people on the totem pole.

In a different podcast, covered on both Mitigation Journal and the MedicCast, there is a different approach to the topic. That is in Part II. Then there is Part III.

Podcasting on the death of Curtis Mitchell:

From Mitigation Journal

EMS Under the Bus in Pittsburgh – 02/28/10

And in the Mitigation Journal podcast –

MJ156: Winter Storms: Interview with Mr. Richard Brooks, Director Cecil County MD, Emergency Services – 02/23/10

From the MedicCast

Snow Storm 2010 Response and Episode 208 of the MedicCast – 02/28/10

From the EMS Garage

Up to My Pips: EMS Garage Episode 75 – 03/02/10

Writing on the death of Curtis Mitchell:

From Too Old To Work, Too Young To Retire

Trouble Right Here In Three River City – 02/19/10

Comment From Someone In Pittsburgh – 02/20/10

More From Pittsburgh – 02/23/10

Update On The Pittsburgh Story – 02/28/10

And Then I Realized… – 03/01/10

Fertilizer – 03/22/10

Human Sacrifice – 3/24/10

The Tapes Don’t Lie, But People Do – 3/29/10

The Drama Continues In Pittsburgh – 5/12/10

Let The Scapegoating Begin – 01/06/11

Common Sense Prevails – 02/15/11

From David Konig

EMS Blog Rounds Edition 32 – 03/09/10

Why You Need A Social Media Presence: The Case Of Pittsburgh EMS – 02/22/10

Yes Mary, It Is A Transportation System – 02/19/10

From 9-ECHO-1

Pittsburgh…my take on it – 02/23/10

Still Don’t Make It Right… – 03/20/10

From A Day In The Life Of An Ambulance Driver

As usual the truth is somewhere between the extremes – 02/20/10

From Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

The Power of Saying “I’m Sorry”. – 02/21/10

Medic’s Perspective on Mitchell Case. – 02/22/10

The Need for Evidence Before Assessing Guilt. – 02/23/10

The View from Foggy Goggle. – 02/25/10

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.

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