Debra Deckard wants to make Edmond a safer place when it comes to ensuring prompt medical attention when dealing with ambulance services, she said.
Deckard wrote in a letter to the City of Edmond that in 2014, a life-threatening kidney stone caused an infection that caused her husband and her daughter-in-law to opt to transport her to the hospital to save her life. The Edmond Fire Department was there, but Deckard said waiting beyond the 45 minutes she had to wait was too long to wait for EMSA.
“The pain was so intense. These firemen we professional, compassionate and so apologetic for the length of time it was taking for the ambulance to get to me — 45 minutes. No pain medication. All they could do was monitor me and keep apologizing for the delay. They did not have the tools to at least ease my suffering,” said Deckard, a registered nurse for 20 years.
Deckard, 52, noted that at the hospital, she faced pulmonary embolism, respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, uncontrollable low blood pressure, kidney failure and severe sepsis.
“I am now afraid; not only for myself, but for my community that people with no knowledge of how the body works and how it reacts in a split second are making decisions for us that are unacceptable,” Deckard said.
City Manager Larry Stevens told The Edmond Sun that the City of Edmond does not know about and cannot comment on Deckard’s medical conditions. The protections of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) mandate patient privacy unless there is the consent of the patient.
Fire Chief Doug Hall, Battalion Chief Brian Davis and Stevens have talked and personally met with Deckard on several occasions, Stevens said. Deckard also contacted the City Council to express her safety concerns.
“EMSA has also reviewed Ms. Deckard’s concerns, and their review indicated that the proper procedures were followed in her situation,” Stevens noted. “We have been very transparent in our answers, but it appears that Ms. Deckard simply does not agree with our position.”
Stevens said the city is comfortable with its position that EMSA is an appropriate provider of ambulance services for Edmond residents. EMSA has established a national reputation for outstanding clinical care at a reasonable cost through an effective regional arrangement, Stevens noted.
Deckard said she believes the Edmond Fire Department should be responsible for the city’s ambulance services because they respond quickly to the scene. The Edmond Fire Department has emergency medicial services personnel, but does not transport patients, Stevens said. EMSA ambulances very seldom respond to areas outside their service area, Stevens said.
“To our knowledge we have not received any other similar complaints,” Stevens said.
The City of Edmond has been a member of the EMSA regional ambulance service going back to 1990. The clinical care is outstanding, Stevens said. Regional ambulance service is an effective model that is common throughout the United States, he added.
“Local governments should take advantage of opportunities to pool resources as appropriate,” Stevens said.
The City funds our EMSA subsidy through a monthly charge of $3 on residential utility bills. This amount has remained unchanged since this policy went into effect seven years ago. Edmond residents are automatically enrolled in the EMSA Care Program. However, they can choose to opt out of the program each October.
Complete information concerning the EMSA care program may be found at edmondok.com.