V I E W P O I N T S
Editor's Note: Early Friday morning, a Puckett EMS ambulance crashed near Berry College in Rome, killing the patient inside. The driver told police she had fallen asleep at the wheel after being on duty from 7 p.m. the previous evening. The letter writer below, who wishes to remain anonymous pending finding a new job, says the accident was caused by Puckett's systematic overwork of employees. Puckett is Dade's ambulance provider.
The Planet has made no effort to investigate the letter writer's allegations but publishes the letter here as an opinion piece relevant to local health and safety. .
I’m writing this in hopes that this reaches the communities. I am an
employee with Puckett EMS and feel like the truth needs to be shared.
The accident that happened comes as no surprise to any of us. We want Puckett
EMS held responsible due to the fact almost all of its employees have
complained via text, email and personal meetings about the call volume and
amount of trucks, or possibly making the 24-hour trucks 12 hours. We will
all admit to falling asleep while driving or making medication errors due
to being overly tired. We all told them that someone was going to die.
This isn't the first incident where someone fell asleep and wrecked, this is
just the first one where someone passed away. They run all their 911
counties as thin as possible on trucks to save money. Sometimes we find
ourselves sitting in a truck for hours at a time being the only truck to
cover two counties.
Not only do we run 911 calls after transferring a patient to the hospitals, we are also picking up calls from the hospital to someone's home. It's cheaper to use an ALS [advanced life support] 24-hour truck during the night than to pay for another truck. We all literally run calls or post the entire 24-hour shift, then get phone calls for us to work the next day due to not having employees to cover trucks. When the employees of Puckett EMS ask for a change we are told that it costs too much money or that if they can get 5 years of employment out of someone they are doing good.
People are going to continue to die or be hurt as long as Puckett EMS is allowed to conduct business in such dangerous work conditions.