South Carolina accident and injury lawyers like Howell and Christmas, wonder if their clients are protected in the low country. According to a recent article in the Beaufort Gazette in South Carolina, new information prepared by the Bluffton Township Fire District reveals that on a daily basis, Beaufort ambulances must scramble to other low country towns, such as Bluffton and Sun City, to help their emergency medical services (hereinafter “EMS”) respond to emergency medical calls. Out thoughts at Howell and Christmas, are that we should all be concerned because if any of us in the living in the southern coastal areas of our state gets into a serious car accident the lack of adequate EMS workers could literally be the difference between life and death.
The report notes that due to recent growth in southern areas of Beaufort County, that during a sixteen month time frame, ambulances to be used in the northern part of the county were made to drive to the southern areas over 400 times to assist in emergency calls. The article further notes that the fire district opines that based upon this information, it is clear that the ambulance numbers and workers are not enough to cover the areas to which they are assigned. According to the article, local fire officials have been reporting that EMS is “stretched too thin” for years.
So why do Bluffton fire authorities care? According to the article, the fire district has to respond to not only fires but also to other emergency calls including medical cases and other serious injuries. An example was given of a serious traffic accident that caused significant injuries on highway U.S. 278 and required a fire truck all the way from the Bluffton fire district to support the EMS workers. Fire officials report that there is a need for at least one more ambulance for the southern part of Beaufort County. Again, my take on this is that we should all be concerned about this lack of emergency response services on our coast because the delayed response time, caused by not being adequately staffed, could lead to any one of us not receiving medical treatment in time.
Importantly, the article notes that the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control trauma patients and those with serious injuries have to get to a hospital as fast as possible. DEHC calls the first hour following injury as “the golden hour”. An injured person has a much better chance of surviving and/or recovering from their injuries if they get good medical care and treatment within the first hour after the accident.
Examples of slow response times and inadequate health care were cited. Most significant in my opinion were the cases of a seventeen year old high school student from Bluffton who was in a fatal car crash after the prom and a low country man that sustained a massive head trauma in his backyard. At least one of these cases resulted in a wrongful death law suit being filed. The primary complaints made in the action against the county was that of incompetence on the part of the EMS workers who took to injured young man to the hospital.
Source: Are we protected? Data suggest county EMS stretched too thin, Beaufort Gazette, July 4, 2009.
Howell and Christmas, analysis and commentary. As I stated above, this issue really affects all of us. Slow EMS response times and inadequate medical care are bad for all of us along the coast of South Carolina. We in Charleston, Beaufort and everywhere else in the low country should demand better from our elected and other officials.