By Ron Hammer
Two weeks ago, Walter Casey posed a number of questions to the Director of Post 53 and to the other Posties.
Since Mr. Casey is so fond of using the Darien Times as his personal forum, I offered to have the Times host a meeting between the two of us to provide an opportunity for a two-way dialogue. A chance to answer those and any other questions he may have had, and do it on the record. However, Mr. Casey declined my offer.
About two years ago we wrote to the paper and explained that Darien EMS – Post 53 would never respond to misinformed criticism of the organization, and we still will not.
Since then, dozens of missives have been lobbed by Mr. Casey, and published by the Darien Times. Our offer to answer any questions from Walter Casey or any other individual is still on the table.
In the interim, I thought it would help to go on record, one more time, with a few facts. Over 40 years, Post 53 has constantly evolved. We embrace and welcome development and change in the field of EMS. We care deeply about patient care and put a greater emphasis on training than any of our peers. We support basing paramedics wherever the Town wants to put them. That decision rests with the Town. Today, they come from medic stations located extremely close to Darien. Our response times (about 6 minutes) are amongst the best in the state. The paramedic response times to our town are within national standards. Every call goes to a dispatcher who determines the level of response required based on nationally accepted protocols. If paramedic care is deemed necessary, medics are immediately requested. If a medic is delayed, the patient is transported immediately and an intercept takes place en route to the hospital. Patient care begins with the arrival of our first responders and our Post 53 crews. All patients, regardless of the severity of their condition, first require basic assessment and management of any life threatening conditions. This is commonly referred to as BLS (basic life support) before ALS (advanced life support). We are always happy to provide more detail for those who are interested.
A number of years ago, the town formed an EMS commission. This was done to analyze and make recommendations to the Town regarding emergency medical services. Although Post 53 has very strong internal controls, as well as oversight from Stamford Hospital and an MD responsible for medical control, the town determined that an independent review would be useful. Since then, we have made ourselves available to the commission for any and all questions. The decision to move to trained professional dispatchers was directly related to work we did with the commission. That same commission has stated that EMS services within Darien continue to meet the community’s needs in a manner that is consistent with nationally accepted standards, and they have not recommended the hiring of a full-time paramedic. I am not aware of any open issues with the commission, and we continue to have regular dialogue. We welcome any and all suggestions from them on how to improve patient care.
Sadly, it seems to me that those who are most affected by Mr. Casey’s regular writings are the 150 or so members of Post 53. These are people who are dedicated to the service of others. Many of our members volunteer more than 100 hours per month to help our community. Lastly, I want to address the insulting suggestion that any young adult member of Post 53, or their parents, think that this is an activity that will increase their chances of getting into a college. Colleges do not recruit EMTs.
In fact, as we tell all entering candidates, it is more likely that the incredible commitment required of Post membership over four years at Darien High School will necessitate sacrifice and take a toll on academic performance. We also tell all new members that the skills they develop while in our organization will serve them well and that we hope they leave with a responsibility to serve for the rest of their lives.
The Darien Times has offered to moderate any conversations Mr. Casey would like to have with Post 53. Our offer to respond and educate still stands.
Ron Hammer is director of Post 53.