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

- Rogue Medic

Michael Huss – Pittsburgh EMS Only Needs Someone Good With a Shovel

Do you want to work in Pittsburgh EMS?

Be prepared to shovel, because the city is not prepared to handle snow emergencies by any other means.

What about medical skills?

Don’t worry. All that matters to the administration is whether you can dig.

The administration is appealing the arbitrator’s decision that the problem was a lack of planning. Public Safety Director Michael Huss continues to claim that one individual killed Curtis Mitchell by making an inappropriate comment in a phone call to dispatch that just happened to be recorded.

Of course, if the administration doesn’t appeal, then the administration might have to admit that they do not know how to plan for snow. Don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone to admit that.

Are they Amish?

No. The Amish do not use a lot of modern equipment, but they would have had the whole neighborhood out with shovels.

This would have been a group effort, rather than a sacrificial offering to the media gods. Have any of the media reported the full details, yet?

You won’t catch Public Safety Director Michael Huss with a shovel, unless he is handing it to someone with orders to dig.

How long would it take to shovel to a residence in the kind of snow that Pittsburgh had when Curtis Mitchell died?

5 hours?

10 hours?

15 hours?

If the crew does not dig their way (assuming 2 shovels per ambulance, which is probably not the case) to the patient, but just trudges through the snow, how do they get the patient back to the ambulance?

Do they just sit on a couch and wait for someone else to rescue them, since they have abandoned their ambulance?

How much longer do all of the other patients have to wait just because the crew has decided to abandon their ambulance in order to do nothing more than reach the patient?

If the crew had made it to Curtis Mitchell’s residence, what would they have done to move Mr. Mitchell to the ambulance?

Would they have just sat with Curtis Mitchell until he died?

Should the ambulance crews disobey dispatch and decide which calls they are going to?

Why should the ambulance crew decide that this call is so important that they are going to place an ambulance out of service for probably more than 10 hours, just so they can claim that they got to the patient?

Do we want anarchy, where each ambulance crew can tell dispatch that they are not responding to calls?

Each crew was reassigned to other calls by dispatch. Were those calls unimportant?

Dispatch decided that the other calls were more important, so why should the ambulance crew disobey dispatch?

Since the revelers at Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s birthday party seem to be the people assigned 4 wheel drive vehicles, we can understand why they were not used.

Why weren’t 4 wheel drive vehicles assigned to EMS, Fire, or Police?

We all had ample time to prepare.

– Cecil County Director of Emergency Services Richard Brooks.

Why didn’t Pittsburgh prepare for snow?

How incompetent is Public Safety Director Michael Huss?

How incompetent is Mayor Luke Ravenstahl?

Also see Josie Dimon was the Scapegoat of Public Safety Director Michael Huss in the Death of Curtis Mitchell.

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Comments

  1. They could use the shovels to remove all the bullshit Huss has been spewing…was that over the line?

    The simple answer is my SOG (and pretty much all EMS personnel’s SOGs) state that I will handle the traffic assigned to my unit by dispatch or supervisors. If I am cancelled, I am cancelled. If I encounter impediments to accessing a patient I relay this information to dispatch and my supervisors and I work on a game plan to make access. The only SOG I can see being violated would be the one where you use appropriate language only on the radio.

    The worst part is the public still thinks that the medics and supervisors just left him there to die!

    • Christopher,

      They could use the shovels to remove all the bullshit Huss has been spewing…was that over the line?

      No. You were not over the line, but Huss and Ravenstahl have been over the line and full of it.

      The simple answer is my SOG (and pretty much all EMS personnel’s SOGs) state that I will handle the traffic assigned to my unit by dispatch or supervisors. If I am cancelled, I am cancelled. If I encounter impediments to accessing a patient I relay this information to dispatch and my supervisors and I work on a game plan to make access. The only SOG I can see being violated would be the one where you use appropriate language only on the radio.

      I agree, except that it wasn’t over the radio. It was on a phone call to dispatch that was recorded.

      Even though I agree that the comments were inappropriate, I can’t say that I have never made inappropriate comments. Josie Dimon was working very hard and non-stop, while Huss and Ravenstahl are reported to have been partying very hard.

      Josie Dimon did not have the ability to direct anything, she was following the direction of dispatch.

      Huss and Ravenstahl created the conditions that became a complete disaster when the predicted blizzard did not magically avoid Pittsburgh.

      The worst part is the public still thinks that the medics and supervisors just left him there to die!

      People are gullible and tend to believe first impressions. Public Safety Director Michael Huss was the first one to the press. His story was repeated by a lot of people a a sensational, but true story. The problem is that people tend not to change their minds even if we find out that we were fooled.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t it snow there, like, every year? Great post, BTW.
    I have worked EMS in rural areas that get A LOT of snow every winter. Guess what the ambulances have? 4WD. They also use snow mobiles that pull covered sleds or they use big CATS that are the size of small buses. We always got the job done.
    The truth is that Pittsburgh chose to allocate it’s funds elsewhere, rather than plan and take care of something that happens every year. Their bad. If I lived there, I’d be righty mad! Outraged.
    Alaska can provide better EMS in the snow, for less money. Maybe the rest of the county could learn something from them. Just a thought. However, this is just one angle of the over all problem…..
    Fantastic post.

    • Theresa Jones,

      Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t it snow there, like, every year?

      No.

      You are wrong.

      Pittsburgh is a tropical paradise, therefore they do not need to prepare for snow.

      Great post, BTW.

      Thank you.

      I have worked EMS in rural areas that get A LOT of snow every winter. Guess what the ambulances have? 4WD. They also use snow mobiles that pull covered sleds or they use big CATS that are the size of small buses. We always got the job done.

      There are many ways of dealing with snow, or any other disaster, that involve using the brain. The Huss/Ravenstahl Equation seems to only involve muscles – other peoples’ muscles. Not a plan that can be expected when things are hitting the fan.

      The truth is that Pittsburgh chose to allocate it’s funds elsewhere, rather than plan and take care of something that happens every year. Their bad. If I lived there, I’d be righty mad! Outraged.

      Exactly, although they are working within a budget and could not choose to get everything they would want. Still, the choices made do seem to have been even close to sensible. They are reported to have replaced 4 wheel drive snow plows with 2 wheel drive (which are probably one wheel drive, because as soon as one wheel starts spinning the other stops moving, unless they paid for limited slip differential and I am not holding my breath hoping they did that).

      Alaska can provide better EMS in the snow, for less money. Maybe the rest of the county could learn something from them. Just a thought. However, this is just one angle of the over all problem…..

      Not to be critical of Alaska, but they don’t have a choice. If Alaskans are not prepared for snow, a lot of people will not survive. Pittsburgh gets away with it because they have several elections between blizzards, so politicians cut the things they think won’t interfere with re-election.

      Fantastic post.

      Thank you.

  3. Christopher, the inappropriate traffic was on a phone, presumably a cell phone.

    All of our supervisors and managers have 4WD vehicles, even though the ambulances don’t. What we do seem to have is a way to get snow plows out to bad areas if we need them. At least the last couple of snow storms.

    • Too Old To Work,

      Christopher, the inappropriate traffic was on a phone, presumably a cell phone.

      That is what was reported.

      All of our supervisors and managers have 4WD vehicles, even though the ambulances don’t. What we do seem to have is a way to get snow plows out to bad areas if we need them. At least the last couple of snow storms.

      This is the way it should be. If the ambulance cannot get to to the patient, the supervisor should be able to pick up the ambulance crew and take them to the patient and either wait on scene for a plow, or transport them back to the ambulance (depending on what is appropriate).

      If a supervisor takes 15 minutes to get to the ambulance and takes 10 minutes to drive the quarter of a mile to the patient’s residence, that is still much faster than having the crew spending hours digging their way to the patient or forcing their way through the snow and then trying to drag the patient through the snow. Why subject the patient to that kind of treatment?

      How many crews can be freed up to transport other patients who were waiting for over 10 hours during part of the storm?

      Each patient that ties up an ambulance is delaying treatment of all other patients, so deciding to not provide ways to move patients is deciding to make all other patients wait longer for care and transport and ignoring their medical conditions.

  4. Hey Rogue

    I had a feeling you would revisit this, thanks again for all of the support.

    The Director isn’t happy with the decision and again has attacked us through the media. He is stating he wants to appeal the award because he is outraged and this isn’t the message he wants to send. He isn’t telling the tax payers not only did the City lose the arbitration, they lost the ruling at the unemployment hearing several months ago, the referee gave a one sided verdict for Mrs. Dimon. Two independent professionals both ruled it is the City that is at fault not Mrs. Dimon.

    • jvems,

      I had a feeling you would revisit this, thanks again for all of the support.

      Thank you.

      It is an example of bad management, which I see as one of the biggest problems we face in providing good patient care.

      If we used the example of Public Safety Director Michael Huss and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, paramedics would not carry medications, but would blame the Emergency Department for the bad patient outcomes.

      Snow happens. Smart people prepare for it. The people responsible for clearing the streets were not equipped to be able to keep up with the snow and there were no contingency plans for this, even though storms like this are to be expected every decade or so.

      The Director isn’t happy with the decision and again has attacked us through the media. He is stating he wants to appeal the award because he is outraged and this isn’t the message he wants to send.

      Of course it isn’t the message he wants to send.

      The message he wants to send is a lie. He wants people to believe he is competent.

      The only way Public Safety Director Michael Huss could convince me he is competent is to prove that he tried to do all the things he could have to prepare for this storm, but in spite of all of his attempts, his decisions were reversed by someone higher up.

      This may be the case, but since the death of Curtis Mitchell all of his behavior only reinforces my impression that both Public Safety Director Michael Huss and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl have been incompetent in their handling of storm preparation. They appear to have compounded that incompetence by blaming others for their incompetence.

      He isn’t telling the tax payers not only did the City lose the arbitration, they lost the ruling at the unemployment hearing several months ago, the referee gave a one sided verdict for Mrs. Dimon. Two independent professionals both ruled it is the City that is at fault not Mrs. Dimon.

      Just like the husband/wife who is caught in bed with someone else, but continues to accuse the wife/husband of making things up and of spying on him/her.

      The Huss/Ravenstahl circus will continue to come up with others to blame for their lack of preparation.

      Why should we expect otherwise, since it has helped them to stay in office through all of this.

      If another blizzard is forecast for the mayor’s birthday, will the top city mangers travel out of town for the party this year?

      Probably not, but that may be all that the mayor has learned from this mistake.

  5. Weren’t there physicians doing call backs that invariably led to the cancellations? Who is raining stool on the EM resident parade? Did Roth personally make them all squat on his head with no lube?

    That said. She was a scapegoat. Run tapes for every single dispatch position at 911 in any zone on any random day, and you’ll hear nearly obsessive profanity (and flatulence) on a daily basis. Yes, when it goes beep beep, we’re all recorded, but if someone can lose a year of work for dropping the whatever bomb. Then… we’re living in an attempted Orwellian perfect society. God forbid people review everything that is said in the cab between calls… or especially after a hang nail refusal. This goes for every single ambulance/medic/rescue/whatever you call it… in the entire god damn nation.

    • randy rando,

      Weren’t there physicians doing call backs that invariably led to the cancellations? Who is raining stool on the EM resident parade? Did Roth personally make them all squat on his head with no lube?

      That is what I read – that physicians were doing call backs, not the head squatting. I don’t know what protocol was being used or any of the details, but Public Safety Director Michael Huss and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl do not seem to have tried to go after any doctors.

      That said. She was a scapegoat. Run tapes for every single dispatch position at 911 in any zone on any random day, and you’ll hear nearly obsessive profanity (and flatulence) on a daily basis. Yes, when it goes beep beep, we’re all recorded,

      A year ago, in Pittsburgh – Punishment, not Planning, I tried to make that clear. I wrote –

      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.

      . . . .

      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.

      Few of the critics seem to understand this.

      but if someone can lose a year of work for dropping the whatever bomb. Then… we’re living in an attempted Orwellian perfect society.

      The only reason for the excessive punishment would be if the phone call in some way contributed to the death of Curtis Mitchell.

      The phone call did not change the outcome at all.

      Any punishment should be consistent with the punishment given to others for similar infractions of the rules. This seems to be the reason for back pay for everything except three days. 3 days suspension without pay may be what the rule book designates as punishment for inappropriate language on the job.

      God forbid people review everything that is said in the cab between calls… or especially after a hang nail refusal. This goes for every single ambulance/medic/rescue/whatever you call it… in the entire god damn nation.

      Amen.

  6. One only needs to know the professional past of Huss to understand why his support for EMS is on the bottom of his boot. Ask any of the medics he is affiliated sometime you get the chance, they’ll let you know

    Bingo, Waterford Lakes FL

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