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Eve Jensen of Cedar Key said she thinks Levy County Emergency Medical Service personnel should practice reading maps more.
Jensen's husband K.C. Brown needed ambulance transport to Malcom Randall, the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Gainesville. That was in July, and now in February she is still incensed.
Levy County EMS, Jensen said, aroused her extreme anger and indignation by not listening to her when she gave directions to reach her home at 1181 Gulf Blvd.
She told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that the house was on the Southeast corner of Whiddon Avenue and Gulf Boulevard. When the ambulance came, it turned the wrong way at the intersection, she said, and she ran after it with a flashlight to direct them to her house.
After her husband was put in the ambulance, she followed it to the VA. It never went faster than 65 mph and emergency lights and siren were not used, she said. Jensen felt like the EMS crew treated her husband as if he had already passed away, she said.
Jensen's message for readers is to mark their homes well to help assure emergency service will arrive more quickly.
While EMS workers are waiting for their next call, Jensen said, they should become familiar with roads. They should practice reading maps. They should notice that a house with a Gulf Boulevard address might just have a driveway that goes onto Whiddon Avenue, she said.
Jensen has been on the island for 20 years, she said, and she has paid EMS twice each year because there are two buildings on her property.
Levy County EMS Director Marie Wells said her staff are well trained and there are some facts to consider in regard to this issue.
When a new person is brought onto the EMS team, Wells said, they are trained by five different training officers over a one-month span. They spend five 24-hour shifts driving to addresses. They are taught to read the map book. They are given a written test, too, where they are given an address and must write directions to the house and then to the hospital.
In this test, they are even given false addresses just to test them, Wells said.
"It's not like we just put them on the truck and say, 'Good luck,'" Wells said.
As for lights and sirens, it is the paramedics' decision about which code to call as they transport, Wells said. Code One is no lights or siren. Code Two is an Advanced Life Support call where there are no lights or siren but that may change in route to the hospital. Code Three is lights and siren. Code Four is the paramedic working with a patient who has suffered cardiac arrest and is being treated for that as the ambulance goes to the hospital.
The distance from Cedar Key to Shands at the University of Florida is 55 miles. A vehicle traveling 55 miles at a steady speed of 65 mph would reach the end point in 51.76 minutes. A vehicle traveling 55 miles at 82 mph, would reach the end point in 40.24 minutes.
The top speed of an ambulance is 82 mph, Wells said.
This 11-minute difference exists if both vehicles start instantly at 65 mph and 82 mph, and if they do not slow down for stoplights or traffic.
Wells said ambulances must obey traffic laws. The lights and sirens alert other drivers of the need for the emergency vehicle to pass through, but the ambulance driver must look before passing through a red light.