FREE SPEECH ZONE | Will informed expert opinion be set aside?


A further and compelling insight is brought to light at Minneapolis Issues, compliments of fire  fighters Local 82. One assumes this letter passed across the desk of City Council Vice-President Robert Lilligren and it is worth quoting in its entirety:

August 23, 2011

Free Speech Zone
The Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases.

Alex Jackson, Chief, Minneapolis Fire Department

Dear sir,

I have been told that the Fire Department is looking at cutting back on Fire Companies such that at times whole stations will not have a staffed engine. I hope that this will not happen. As Medical Director of the Minneapolis Fire Department, I worry that these cutbacks will lead to a slower response time in critical emergencies in the City of Minneapolis.  I am particularly worried that any delay will lead to additional deaths in managing critically injured patients, patients who are choking, and patients in cardiac arrest.  The Minneapolis Fire Department can be proud of its success managing these critical emergencies. These are emergencies where every moment counts.  As you know we have looked at these time sensitive emergencies and our firefighters clearly save many patients’ lives every year. In the past year they have saved the lives of several people who were choking on a foreign body.  They have saved the lives of many people in cardiac arrest.

The clearest measure used to assess the quality of an emergency system is in its outcomes from cardiac arrest.  This is an area where you have life and death outcomes in every case.  Or you may have life with a severe neurological injury or life with minimal to no neurological injury.  To have high quality survivors you need all the links in the chain of survival described by the American Heart Association.  Minneapolis has them all and it shows.  The most critical link is to get skilled responders there very fast.  During cardiac arrest we lose about 10 percent of survival and quality of survival per minute that the patient is in untreated arrest. Any delay in response, such as from a fire station further away, will lead to additional death and neurologic disability. Minneapolis can be proud that its Utstein number is 58% (of which 94% left the hospital with an excellent neurologic result). That places Minneapolis right up there amongst the very best Emergency Medical Systems in the country.  For example last year, Seattle’s Utstein number was 48%. You and all of the Minneapolis Fire Department have worked very hard to achieve this success in saving lives. We continue to make important steps forward on this.  I hope we will not slide backwards due to slower response times.


Brian D. Mahoney, MD, FACEP

Medical Director, Minneapolis Fire Department

Medical Director, Hennepin County Emergency Medical Services

The term “Utstein number” refers to a trauma template used to generate uniform data outcomes regarding all stages of major trauma treatment. I googled the term and found quite a treasure trove reflecting the requirements of major trauma procedures.

I witnessed a cardiac arrest incident a while back and the prompt arrival of the firemen and their no-nonsense procedures saved my friend’s life. Cardiac intensive care at HCMC and probably $100K in medical expense and my friend lives on.

Foolish and really amateurish budget cuts are at issue. Hidden preparations that keep a 1000-page document from the Board of Estimate and Taxation, the City Council, and the general public in patent violation of the statutory stipulations in the Minneapolis City Charter are also at issue.

Life and death are familiar companions in senior housing. This is no “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” scenario here in Ward 6 or anywhere else in our fair city.