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Home > Topics > EMS Management

Veteran dies 500 yards from ER waiting for ambulance

He collapsed in the hospital cafeteria; staff followed procedure and called 911 but it took an ambulance a half hour to arrive

By EMS1 Staff

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Veterans Affairs hospital is reviewing its policy after a veteran who collapsed in the hospital cafeteria died while waiting a half hour for an ambulance to arrive and transport him 500 yards to the ER.

Staff followed procedure and called 911 when he suffered what appeared to be a heart attack, CBN News reports.

The emergency room is located about a four-minute walk away in another building on the hospital compound. The incident has prompted questions as to why the man was not strapped to a gurney and wheeled there. 

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Dave Gilman Dave Gilman Thursday, July 03, 2014 1:21:16 PM I once had to respond into a hospital, pick up a siezure patient from the MRI and take them up one floor to the emergency room which is literally directly above the MRI and the elevator is only 10 feet outside of both departments. Took us about 10 minutes to get to the hospital, the staff could have simply wheeled her on the hospital stretcher she was already on into the elevator and up one floor
Rescuing Providence Rescuing Providence Thursday, July 03, 2014 3:37:47 PM I wrote this just last week, king of made me think.
Ken Henke Ken Henke Thursday, July 03, 2014 5:14:42 PM A hospital in my city had a policy that they don't go outside for an emergency. They had to call 911 even if it happened just outside the ER door. Another hospital had a doctor's office connected to it via a covered walkway. They still had to call 911 for transport to the ER.
Judy White Judy White Thursday, July 03, 2014 5:18:24 PM God help us all ...Our sons and daughters go to war .......Come home be treated this way .......I'm so ashamed of our country !
Chase Doerscher Chase Doerscher Thursday, July 03, 2014 5:51:31 PM what company do you own? obviously you are saying you will offer jobs based on their old salary for people who break their work place rules and get fired. if you don't have one....start one...or atleast think before you talk
Chase Doerscher Chase Doerscher Thursday, July 03, 2014 5:54:43 PM if this wasn't a veteran what would you be saying?!?!?!? I respect our veterans but im not going to risk a job for someone who may or may not have actually fought for our country, what im ashamed about is people like you in our country saying a ex desk jockey in the air force deserves as much VIP treatment as one who lost a leg in an actual war.
Paul Delle Paul Delle Thursday, July 03, 2014 7:47:51 PM Northport VA has a large facility but they have an ambulance that the staff uses in similar cases, .. When I worked for Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, the Nursing home across the street had a footbridge connected to the hospital, but they still called 911 because of policy issue. They even threatened paramedics with loosing their jobs if we used the footbridge instead of taking a longer time to load the patient in the ambulance and drive a few feet to the ER and unload them. It still completely boggles my mind how healthcare consistently puts paper-work and policy before human life. And every paramedic i know in every state in this country has a similar story... and it's always the same BS excuse: "it's a policy thing.. it's a billing's an insurance thing.. it's a liability thing.. " What about human life?
Donna Baer Donna Baer Thursday, July 03, 2014 8:34:13 PM Wow, how disheartening that instead of actually DOING SOMETHING the staff called 911 and then waited. Saddened that this man's life was worth so little.
Matt Hudgins Matt Hudgins Thursday, July 03, 2014 9:51:03 PM I work in a hospital, and this would NEVER happen in mine. If there were a medical emergency in the cafeteria, someone would call the internal emergency line, and an overhead announcement would be made. The nursing supervisor, respiratory, ICU nurse and the transport teams respond and ensures the person goes to the ER.
Spence Deb Spence Deb Thursday, July 03, 2014 9:55:39 PM Cafeteria was prob not in patient care area and clinicians could be cited for practicing beyond their scope of practice. 500 yards away is a long distance to go without medical care. Why 30 minutes for ambulance response??? Thats the question
Michelle Wagner McDonald Michelle Wagner McDonald Thursday, July 03, 2014 10:51:39 PM Why don't you check your facts before reporting on a story it didn't take an ambulance 30 mins to arrive.
Annamarie Cwikla Annamarie Cwikla Friday, July 04, 2014 4:41:53 AM OKAY..........Lets talk more about the story....there always is more that is NEVER stated. Was those who were there performing CPR, because at the VA, we are all trained if something like this were to happen...........SO DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ. Most likely they helped save him until the ambulance came. Maybe he had a massive heart attack and died instantly. YOU ALL DO NOT KNOW THE STORY.......DO NOT JUST JUDGE FROM WHAT YOU READ ON THE NET/NEWSPAPERS.
Annamarie Cwikla Annamarie Cwikla Friday, July 04, 2014 4:43:53 AM Why? I agree with Chase. Right now everyone is trying to make the VA look bad. These veterans get FREE medical care, medication, surgeries, procedures daily. So I really irritates me that the newpapers and radio stations and internet are trying to make the VA look bad. These patients are treated with respect (even though most treat the employees like SHIT) they get their appointments, their every needs. So let's not judge the VA because of stupid propaganda out in the world. !!!!!
Annamarie Cwikla Annamarie Cwikla Friday, July 04, 2014 4:45:07 AM Exactly and at the VA, if a patient goes into Cardiac Arrest, we all are trained to perform CPR and continue until medical help arrives
Laurie Elaine Mallow Laurie Elaine Mallow Friday, July 04, 2014 5:21:38 AM Rules are ment to be bent! Just saying common since has to kick in some where and yes I have an will break rules when it comes to life ! It is a shame how company's worry more about a $ than a life I just left a job at a non emergency transport company that frowned upon emergency transport due to they didn't get paid after the third pt I transported I got tired of justifying myself and told them where they could drive their unit! Its not just veterans its the whole dam human race
William Fallon William Fallon Friday, July 04, 2014 5:42:29 AM Insane. Obviously the people around him have really screwed up value systems!
Dwayne Patrick Dwayne Patrick Friday, July 04, 2014 5:43:38 AM Annamarie Cwikla Veterans don't get all free medical care anymore thanks to a sorry administration in Washington they have to pay 80% for all visits , treatments and medications they recieve
Wes Dixon Wes Dixon Friday, July 04, 2014 7:05:44 AM The hospital in my town has a several buildings and Dr's office suites within a 1 minute walk to ER and main lobby. But they still have to call an ambulance if something happens because they aren't "emergency" Dr's and they're insurance doesn't cover them if something happens.
Wes Dixon Wes Dixon Friday, July 04, 2014 7:06:01 AM The hospital in my town has a several buildings and Dr's office suites within a 1 minute walk to ER and main lobby. But they still have to call an ambulance if something happens because they aren't "emergency" Dr's and they're insurance doesn't cover them if something happens.
John Atkinson John Atkinson Friday, July 04, 2014 8:51:40 AM duh, how many of our brave men/women will die until they "FIRE" the ones that are resonsible
Daniel Hart Daniel Hart Friday, July 04, 2014 9:17:56 AM This has been in issue in every hospital in my area. It certainly needs looking into and changed.
Chase Doerscher Chase Doerscher Friday, July 04, 2014 12:58:19 PM how do you know they didn't do something? because the article sure as hell didn't say they didn't do anything.
Audrey Peters Audrey Peters Friday, July 04, 2014 4:52:35 PM Annamarie Cwikla When a man or woman signs their name to the bottom of the contract - yes, CONTRACT - with US Navy, US Army, etc. part of that contract guaranteed them FREE medical care for life. They become GOVERNMENT PROPERTY as the ink dries on said contract. Are you military? These people sign a contract that the government can put their very lives on the line anytime and questions asked. They are not allowed to speak of their politics and/or the president badly. You need to do a little more research into this before you speak again. I suggest going directly to one of the VA hospitals or clinics and talking with some of those people what put THEIR lives on the line so that YOU (and those like you) have the FREEDOM to speak so badly of their efforts. Also....Dwayne is correct.
Scott Shaver Scott Shaver Friday, July 04, 2014 6:04:47 PM So this was in a separate building from the hospital...0.28 miles away (that's what 500 yards is). This was not in the physical hospital where a rapid response team would respond. Most hospitals have professional buildings near by, but they call 911 for emergencies because they are not in the hospital. And think about how long it would take to grab a stretcher somewhere, place the patient on it. and roll 0.28 miles to the ER. Paramedic ambulances can do just as much as a doctor the first part of a cardiac arrest.
Donna Baer Donna Baer Friday, July 04, 2014 8:28:50 PM Chase Doerscher because as an AHA CPR Instructor and I know if SOMETHING was done, it's possible he could have been sustained long enough for additional help to arrive. No guarantees when you're attempting resuscitation but "died waiting" would imply to me that such action was not forthcoming. Since you chose to comment on my post, how do you know something WAS done?
Judy White Judy White Friday, July 04, 2014 10:18:50 PM Why doesn't the real truth come out ........because it's the VA ......They need to all fired and replaced with Bertrand's coming for war .....put them on this e jobs and see the situation change ......
Ron Mason Ron Mason Saturday, July 05, 2014 1:04:13 AM Dwayne Patrick not sure where you are getting your info from. But if it's service connected, vets pay nothing. They CAN incur costs on non service connected related injuries/illnesses. This can be supplemented with private insurance or medicare/Medicaid. The 80% you are referring too if for retiree's. Also for 5 years after a service member gets out they also receive care for free.
Ron Mason Ron Mason Saturday, July 05, 2014 1:54:34 AM Chase Doerscher Shame on you. Does it matter if they worked a desk or on the front lines? No. They all serve a common mission. Both very deserving and you don't get to be the deciding factor on who was worthy. It's like saying a voly, paid on call or suburban FF is not really out there doing it because well, they aren't pro. You know as well as I do, fire (or the enemy) doesn't care if you are initial attack, second team in or an explorer. So next time that dude hooking to the hose or running the pump is on a scene, tell him afterwards he doesn't deserve the VIP treatment because he didn't get to make an interior attack....see what I'm saying?
Chase Doerscher Chase Doerscher Saturday, July 05, 2014 2:11:11 AM ok pal, lets go down a road YOU brought us on, guess what? they are still all on the fire scene, the battlefield isn't anywhere near a naval base in florida, you are a fool for making that comparison, any vets who lost a limb that hears a paper pusher is being considered as heroic as them by you ought to want to kick your butt, I respect ALL our troops, but to say someone whos never fired a gun is as equal as a combat vet....SHAME ON YOU, you are a low excuse for a human, seriously tell me are you flipping off every disabled vet? because that's what it sounds like and since it bothered me so much....volunteers still fight fires, paid on called still fight fires,....paper pushers STILL don't carry a weapons into combat. what kind of poor of an excuse argument was that anyway?
Ron Mason Ron Mason Saturday, July 05, 2014 2:26:58 AM Chase Doerscher Well, lil boy since you want to get all personal we can go that route. We shall go down that road. Let's as all those Vietnam era vets suffering from Agent Orange what they'd rather deal with? The orange or losing a leg? How about those paper pushers that had to walk the Baatan death march? Or sitting in a tent in Tikrit after cooking a meal and some haji fires a RPG? Still think because they don't fire a gun they don't deserve every thing they are entitled to? How about the close to 1 million 40 somethings suffering from Gulf War Syndrome? Grow some hair on your damn balls before you judge what service members did or had to face. The conditions, ailments and wounds DON'T always show up directly. I never fired a gun, but I'm still a combat vet. Why? Iraq decided to launch at us. Every person there including the 28 that died were not in a combat roll at that time. But according to Chase, the HS graduate who now gets to dictate who "deserves" care and who doesn't. I'm going to bet the mothers of those people who died that day take great joy in the fact they lost their kid but hey....they weren't in a combat role, it shouldn't have happened. Go volunteer some time at the local VA kid. Ask the majority of these dudes you see there if they were infantry or combat vets, you'll get your answer and maybe you'll learn something along the way too. As for the rest, you are too dense to figure out what a semantical arrangement is and I don't have the patience or latitude to explain it to you.
Chase Doerscher Chase Doerscher Saturday, July 05, 2014 2:31:40 AM let me get this straight I say someone who pushes papers shouldn't be treated as equal as someone who has actually been on the say "oh yeah what about all those soldiers that's been on the battlefield" you incompetent fool, go learn to read for god sake, my god how stupid are you?!?!?!?!?! this "kid" so far seems 10 times more intelligent then your illiterate ass
Chase Doerscher Chase Doerscher Saturday, July 05, 2014 2:32:16 AM Ron Mason you made this personal by comparing a dc paper pusher to a firefighter, education for gods sake please try it
Ron Mason Ron Mason Saturday, July 05, 2014 2:48:12 AM Chase Doerscher you really are dense. YES they should be treated equally. If not, then, let me ask you, who gets to determine the level of treatment they receive? Please clue us into how that would work? Since we are lecturing on education, God is capitalized, ALWAYS and try using some sentence structure or leave the education and stupid comments out of this, k?
Chase Doerscher Chase Doerscher Saturday, July 05, 2014 8:46:46 PM god is a fictional being, you talk about grammar yet you say "k" ok fool, so I talked to a friend who lost a finger in Iraq and said what you said, his words exactly were "that's a load of bullshit, those damn navy office drones can suck my dick, im not even sure they know how to shoot a gun let alone field strip one", funny you completely avoided my pointing out of your poor thought argument, yeah you sure are the intelligent being here, avoiding any intelligent thoughts sure does bring out intelligence
Ron Mason Ron Mason Saturday, July 05, 2014 10:28:50 PM Chase Doerscher Feel better youngster? Thanks for the compliments. Maybe one day you'll make entry into a fire instead of posing for fictional pictures and have real world experience to talk of. Support of the troops means all of them, not the ones you deem in need of help! Beside your head, what was your point again?
Chase Doerscher Chase Doerscher Saturday, July 05, 2014 10:44:44 PM lol personal attacks shows how little you feel on the possibility of proving anything, and its apparent you cant read, i can see where you thought it was a compliment, if i misread it like you, lol you are a moron, what the fuck do personal experiences have to do with anything here?. funny the more you talk the more it seems you are intimidated by a "youngster" so do you also feel every one on the armed forces should get the medal of honor? you already have stated it basically means nothing to you. one who loses his arm in battle IS a hero, one sitting in a cubicle in florida is NOT. so besides your point of youre afraid to be proven wrong by a kid what is your point? of thats right, its that a lost limb means nothing, i dare you to tell that to veterans faces, or are you to cowardice to do so?
Chase Doerscher Chase Doerscher Saturday, July 05, 2014 10:47:08 PM Ron Mason and how many times do you need to prove that you cant read? when the fuck did i say some of the troops don't deserve help? i DIDNT, im going to call the limbless soldier a hero not a navy officer based in Miami, don't like it? kiss my ass
Ron Mason Ron Mason Saturday, July 05, 2014 10:57:43 PM Chase Doerscher You might be the stupidest kid I've talked with in some time! My God Damn point from the beginning is that each and every F*CKING VET deserves the same care regardless of whether you deem him to be worthy or not. Instead of being a God Damn keyboard hard a$ why don't you try and use a tad of comprehension when talking to others. EVERYONE IN OUR MILITARY is WORTHY of the best care the VA can offer. A man who lost a limb is just as deserving as the man who 20 years after he got out gets cancer, shows symptoms from Agent Orange or fibromyalgia. I WILL TYPE MY 1st point again you tool just in case you can't read; "They all serve a common mission. Both very deserving and YOU don't get to be the deciding factor on who was worthy." Now run along you stupid, immature, non conversation having, prepubescent little f*ck wad, post some more of your senior pictures so only mommy can tell every what her favorite is. The problem with you is, you are too stupid to understand what any point is. GET A F*CKING CLUE! (P.S. you win, you are too dumb to continue any form of debate) bye bye lil fella...
Ron Mason Ron Mason Saturday, July 05, 2014 10:58:44 PM BTW I'm blocking you. You won! I started an argument with a dumb a$ and got beat with experience.
Jake Schulke Jake Schulke Tuesday, July 08, 2014 11:14:13 PM It is not abnormal for a hospital (or bystanders) to call an ambulance for a cardiac arrest which happens on hospital grounds but not in a patient care area. Here is why: Ambulances carry portable equipment required for managing a cardiac arrest. Emergency rooms typically do not. The ED is set up to manage things in their controlled environment, but their equipment is on big heavy carts and bolted to walls. Some hospitals do have emergency response teams with jump bags and portable monitors like prehospital paramedics use. Most do not. Prehospital paramedics are very good at managing a cardiac arrest out of a duffel bag; it's what they do. In most urban areas a 911 call will result in on-the-phone CPR instructions to the caller, including use of an AED (which should be in any hospital cafeteria though that is unknown in this case) and ambulance in 4-8 minutes or less, on average. Throwing the victim on a hospital gurney, and then wheeling it into the ER would have been inappropriate, yielding ineffective CPR during the quarter-mile walk and thus probably ensuring that he did not recover. Immediate CPR and AED would have been the best thing for him. So, the most important questions are: Did people do CPR or not? Was an AED available and used? Did the ambulance really take 30 minutes to respond and why? As a final note: Please remember that as callous as it sounds, and despite the horrible title of the article, this man did not "die waiting"; he died, and then stayed dead while other people waited.
Sandy Raddue Sandy Raddue Sunday, July 13, 2014 8:40:44 AM Annamarie Cwikla you know not of what you speak. Veterans are treated like crap. Sure - SOME of them don't pay for their care - it was prepaid for them when they signed their name on the dotted line and agreed so that uninformed people like you can say the stupid things you just did. PLEASE understand the facts, and understand that our vets ARE dying - and hundreds of thousands more of them are being treated like crap because the system is imploding on itself.
Jeff Weldon Jeff Weldon Saturday, August 02, 2014 12:04:00 AM The VAH had the patient on their premises and failed to intervene, ie: bring a gurney or wheelchair to the patient. The hospital cafeteria is only 500 yards from the emergency room according to the report. I'm sorry for the loss of life, but really couldn't the VAH just handle this without calling 911?

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