It took an ambulance crew nearly 30 minutes to reach an unresponsive heart attack victim in North Side Monday because there were no available ambulances in the area, according to 911 records of the call.
The 41-year-old man’s life was saved after police first-responders continued performing CPR. When the ambulance crew arrived, they administered a shot of epinephrine and continued the CPR. The man’s pulse returned while the ambulance was taking him to hospital.
The emergency call on Rum Point Drive was received at 9:35 a.m. Monday, according to 911 Emergency Centre records. At that time, both Medic 1, normally stationed at the Frank Sound Fire Station, and Medic 3, the George Town ambulance, were out on patient transport calls.
Medic 1 was involved in a non-emergency patient transfer between Frank Sound and the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town. Medic 3 had been called about 20 minutes before the North Side emergency call to another patient transport.
“So, you’ve got the closest ambulance and the next closest ambulance tied up because they’re on non-emergency patient transfers,” 911 Centre Director Brent Finster said.
The 911 center originally dispatched a third ambulance, Medic 4, which is based at West Bay Fire Station, at 9:38 a.m. However, Medic 3 radioed in at 9:40 a.m. from the hospital to inform dispatchers its crew could respond to North Side as soon as they were clear from the patient drop off.
There are typically only three ambulances on duty in the whole of Grand Cayman – at West Bay, George Town and Frank Sound – on any given day and that was the case Monday, Emergency Medical Services chief Stephen Duval confirmed. Mr. Duval said when a situation like the one on Monday arises, calls are put in a queue and the most serious/life-threatening incidents get first priority.
“The [ambulance] service demands have increased, there’s no doubt,” Mr. Duval said. “The key is to prioritize the calls.”
At 9:47 a.m. – 12 minutes after the heart attack report was received – the George Town ambulance, Medic 3, started toward the emergency call on Rum Point Drive. The West Bay ambulance, Medic 4, which was already headed to the emergency, continued on in case the initial ambulance unit needed assistance with CPR or other medical treatment.
Emergency center records show that Medic 3 arrived at Rum Point Drive as of 10:16 a.m. Monday. Medic 4 arrived at 10:19 a.m. It took the first ambulance unit 29 minutes to reach the patient location, driving from George Town to North Side, and a total of 38 minutes from the time the call was dispatched via 911.
Mr. Duval said the driving time from George Town to North Side was cut from the typical 39 minutes to 29 minutes by the crew of Medic 3, which was doing the best it could in responding from far away.
The ambulance was on its way back to the hospital, with the patient at 10:47 a.m. and arrived there at 11:19 a.m., 911 records show.
The two police officers who responded to the call, Zachary McLaughlin and Carlyle Nation, were credited with saving the 41-year-old heart attack victim’s life after he collapsed in the bathroom of the home where he lived. Both police constables received CPR training through the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
The life-saving training that officers McLaughlin and Nation received is conducted on a periodic basis at the RCIPS, and is planned to be conducted for the Cayman Islands Fire Service as well.
A consultant’s report on the fire service, completed in early 2014 by U.K. Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser Peter Holland, recommended that firefighters receive emergency medical responder training, similar to that for emergency medical technicians and paramedics who serve on ambulances.
“The level of demand for the fire service expressed in terms of fire calls and incidents attended is at consistently low levels,” Mr. Holland’s report stated. “The review team identified significant surplus capacity [within the fire service].”
A Cayman Compass review of 911 calls up through the government’s 2013/14 budget year indicated that firefighters are answering, on average, fewer than three emergency calls per day, while ambulance crews receive more than 10 calls per day.
Mr. Holland said allowing fire personnel to respond to some of the non-emergency or less urgent ambulance calls would free up local paramedics to respond when they’re needed most.
“The introduction of this capability will improve the level of support to the communities of the Cayman Islands,” Mr. Holland said.