California Principal Blocks Ambulance Sent to Help Student To Protect Recently Remodeled Field

Parents in San Jose, California are upset over an astonishing decision made by a high school principal to stop an ambulance from driving onto a football field to help an injured player at Del Mar High School on October 29th. The principal Liz Seabury reportedly says she was following district orders to protect the school’s recently remodeled field from motorized vehicles.

Fourteen-year-old Keanu Gallardo was lying on the field when the ambulance arrived. This appears a case where the official was taking an absolutist view of policies — much like the absurd cases we have followed over the zero tolerance policy on drugs and weapons where kids are suspended for drawing stick figures or bringing in aspirin.

Gallardo had suffered a concussion during Del Mar’s JV football game and the principal forced emergency workers to carry a gurney 75 yards downfield to help him. The decision could have cost the district dearly. If the child was harmed by the delay or the act of being carried over the field, the school would have been hit with major torts damages for negligence.

Source: ABC

Jonathan Turley

41 thoughts on “California Principal Blocks Ambulance Sent to Help Student To Protect Recently Remodeled Field”

  1. I don’t believe an ambulance is necessary at games if there is an Athletic Trainer present. I would encourage all schools to hire Athletic Trainners instead of paying an EMT-Basic with only a little first aid training or even a Paramedic to cover the games. Too many injuries have not been recognized by EMS providers since pediatrics and thorough ortho or neuro assessments that don’t “look” like emergencies are some of their weakest areas of education as is most medical situations. A good example of that would be the death of the high school football player who was blown off as nothing to be concerned about by the Orange County NC Paramedic who didn’t even bother to call the kid’s parents.

    For most injuries, an Athletic Trainer can do an assessment and initiate the appropriate treatment immediately. The $1000 ambulance ride may then not be necessary for every sprained finger or ankle.

    This game did have an Athletic Trainer who identified the problem. EMS was notified, The FD responded quickly and had no problem reaching the patient. 20 minutes later an ambulance arrived. I don’t believe there was anything done incorrectly by this school since they had immediate help. The ambulance’s inability to respond to an emergency in a timely manner is of no fault of this principal. The FD’s inability to transport and must wait on scene for 20 minutes is of no fault of this principal.

    However, I do believe the person notifying EMS should be able to give the exact location for the closest access point to the patient.

  2. High schools have been arranging for designated, EMS standby units for 35 years. Apparently that wasn’t the case here, for one reason or another. I’m certainly not in the loop in San Jose.

    Off-duty EMT’s or medics, & back-up ambulances, provide on-the-spot care all over this country. The advantage isn’t necessarily the response time, which would of course be excellent. The real advantage is a dedicated crew & transporting vehicle, with a team that’s familiar with the protocols of that particular venue. It sounds like in this case, it was protocols at issue.

    Of course, if that stand-by unit happens to be in an AMR coverage area, and the crew is not AMR, then they likely couldn’t transport their patient anyway. Part & parcel to the AMR-effect, is that little items like head injuries take a back seat to the county contract provider’s ability to flex biceps and earn dollars.

  3. Why aren’t they examining the way response by EMS was handled? In other large events EMS is directed to the closest entrance. Ambulances and fire trucks don’t always drive up on a stage or through a crowd without some planning. Is there a way to improve communication between EMS and Fire? Should Fire just start doing their own transport? I think this area also has an ambulance contract being negotiated and it is possible AMR is not the best to serve this area.

    I also remember incidents where ambulances and fire trucks have been warned not to drive onto or into certain areas but had ignored the warnings. They ended up with their trucks stuck in mud, drowned by high water and damaged by falling through an old sewer/septic or underground pipe systems which resulted in major delays in transport.

    Damaging personal or government property is not the solution just because the EMS in this area lacks planning and wants to place blame on others so it doesn’t look bad or doesn’t have to answer for its lack of planning and poor response times.

    They had a stretcher to wheel the player out on. It is not like they had to actually carry him. If it hadn’t taken the ambulance 20 minutes to arrive and if the ambulance had followed the fire truck to the closest entrance, this would never have been an issue.

    This won’t be the last time there is a call like this. What if there is a patient on a park path where there is no way you can drive a truck up a horse or bike trail? What if there are other hazards that prevent parking right next to the patient? Do these EMTs and Paramedics also need to lose a few pounds and get into better shape for calls that might require walking? What would have happened if this call had required stairs or a hill to climb where the ambulance could not have driven?

    I think they should plan for more emergencies and be better prepared with communication and their ability to walk a stretcher a few yards. Not all patients will be presented to them in a nice area with drive through service. But, they are lucky there are several responders on each scene since both the ambulance and fire trucks run to the calls.

  4. So you’d fired a dozen people because of one less than stellar incident at a football game . . . .

    And how exactly would you interview the 12 replacements, to ensure THEY wouldn’t act like a fruit-loop in the next soap opera?

    I suspect it isn’t very bright to judge folks by the stupidest think they’ve ever done.

    What’s in your closet?

  5. First its California. They’re all nuts, Second, It’s grass lady, get a grip. If it wasn’t grass you’re nuttier yet. On the question of wheter she should lose her job, the answer is yes because she’s an idiot, but obviously the school board is nuts too and need to go also.

  6. Yeah, blaming the government gives you the right not to be either a responsible parent or adult. Your statements are only good when you believe everything is all right. When something happens you then demand to know why the government didn’t step in to do more to protect you or your child.

  7. Tootie –

    Oh, I’m with you on that. My Libertarian viscera quivers at what we’ve become as a nation enabling the feeble. When Thomas Jefferson spoke of “entangling alliances” of a meddling government, I seem to recall he was at the time addressing his disdain for the expansion of U.S. foreign policy. But the reality of the insistence of government to make every move of every citizen “its business” holds just as true within our borders as without.

    Or, we could just listen to Mark Twain, perhaps the original political humorist, before our inane TV pundits:

    “The mania for giving Government power to meddle in the private affairs of cities or citizens, is likely to cause endless trouble, through the rivalry of schools and creeds that are anxious to obtain official recognition. There is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action, which is the cause of much of our greatness, and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman or German, who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die, and, in fine, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise.”

  8. Patrick,

    It becomes an issue only because the state butts in. If you are going to regulate food you are going to have to regulate sex. Like homosexual sex (causes most of the AID/HIV) and promiscuity (causes all of the STDs), and abortion (another result of bad choices.

    Somehow I don’t think you want that.

  9. Patrick:

    It wasn’t the fat guy’s fault that government officials catered to him. He should have been charged extra for services or told there wouldn’t be further assistance unless he made efforts to help himself. People do wish you die in the strangest ways.

    Businesses charge extra for plus size garments because they require more fabric. And hospitals now cater to fat people (bigger doorways, bigger gurneys, bigger wheel chairs, cranes to lift them up and move them, etc).

    They have to do this now BECAUSE government is tampering in the system and has forbidden any facility which accepts Medicaid to refuse aid.

    Government puts itself in this situation and that is the only reason why there is trouble. I would like to see you apply the same theory to wine drinkers. Pot smokers. People who have promiscuous premarital sex. AIDs and HIV.

    If you want to go down this path, you go down it in a totalitarian police state way, because the only way to make it work is to be totalitarian (everything has to fit into the budget). That is why government should NEVER be involved.

  10. I also remember back in the day we would never have considered parking the truck on the football field. We would have made fools of ourselves in front of the whole crowd trying to lift a 325 pound high school or college kid since back then we didn’t run 10 FFs to every call. Instead, we parked the truck across from the nearest entrance with the back tires in a ditch to lower the rear. Now they have stretchers which are more back friendly that is good since ever if there are 10 FFs at scene, they will more than likely not be doing any lifting once the patient is placed on the private ambulance’s stretcher for liability and worker’s comp reasons.

    Of course there will be some who drive ambulances onto the field for applause from the audience for themselves rather than having any concern about the patient. The patient will still be laying on the ground while they are taking their bows for the spectators.

  11. Speaking of overweight folks, we used to have a patient in San Diego that everyone called, “Big Larry.” He was a gentle giant who – at age 35 for strange metabolic reasons – started gaining massive amounts of weight. At 400 pounds he lost his job at the post office, and at 500 he lost his wife. The neighborhood took care of him; redesigned his house; brought his food when he could no longer get out of bed. Over the course of 10 years most every medic & firefighter had responded to Big Larry’s house.

    When my partner & I saw him for the last time, he weighed 900 pounds; was being treated as a “special client” by UCSD medical center who, among other things, provided him with a custom-made van with a hydraulic lift. The night he went into full arrest, two fire crews of four responded, plus two medics, for a total of 10 rescuers. It took us 37 minutes to get him from the bedroom into the van. Nothing in our bag of tricks was designed for a 900 pound patient. ET tubes? No way. IV line? Forget it. Defibrillation? His chest wall was thicker than a sofa cushion. Guerney? Extrication board? Safety straps? No way.

    And by shift change 4 men went on medical leave for back injuries.

    Moral of the story? Don’t ever think for one minute the obesity rate of Americans happens in a vacuum. It affects everybody, including the taxpayers who shelled out $40,000 for Larry’s van.

  12. “I see you seem to be happy that other people were accosted at gunpoint so you could have better life.

    But I would like to remind you that robbers and thieves generally operate on that same moral plain as well.”

    Tootie, I have no idea what you are talking about in your post. How do you get someone accosted at gunpoint out of a discussion about over weight children. I also don’t see how you can get “fun” out of a very serious issue especially when it concerns the health and well being of a child.

    Obesity is a serious health problem and it affects everyone in some way be it health care costs by increased insurance premiums for everyone or injuries to the health care providers trying to care for these individuals. Special equipment has to be purchased for EMS and in the hospital which also increases cost to the public in some way.

    Ignoring the problem or blaming the government does not make things better for anyone including the child.

    To relate this to the article, at least this school has an Athletic Trainer at the games. I have to give the school good marks for that.

  13. Tootie –

    “The health cares costs of overweight people are only the business of that person, his or her doctor, and the health insurance company (if any) who insures them (they can charge higher rates.”

    No, actually, when the overweight person becomes a patient, it then becomes the business of LOTS of people:

    Do you have any idea how many EMS folks have gone out on back injuries?

    More than we can count.

  14. RJ

    The health cares costs of overweight people are only the business of that person, his or her doctor, and the health insurance company (if any) who insures them (they can charge higher rates).

    Only when government sticks its big fat nose into the whole affair and makes its stupid self at risk of moral hazard, does it become the interest of the state. And wrongly so.

    I see you seem to be happy that other people were accosted at gunpoint so you could have better life.

    But I would like to remind you that robbers and thieves generally operate on that same moral plain as well.

    You can ask any thief why he or she steals. They want better life and they believe they have found the best way they can do it.

    Naturally, it does not make it right. And it does not make it right when government does it either. No matter how much fun it was for you.

  15. I also went to school in the 60s. I was on every organized team the school had. Being part of a well run sports team has many more benefits than just fitness and what you learn from the experiences can become essential in life later especially in EMS.

    Unfortunately your over weight child does become an issue with health care and who pays for their illnesses. You seem overly concerned about wasting money on a football but fail to see the expenses associated with an overweight child and later a fat adult. So it is everyone’s business especially those who pay insurance premiums and those who work in health care who must take care of the obese children and adults especially in emergent situations. Have you checked your over weight child’s or your own glucose lately?

  16. RJ

    I was joking about ruining the field with ambulances. My point was the field shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    And it is absurd to think football is essential for good health when we know that fast walking is all that is necessary for adequate cardio health and weight control.

    If there wasn’t busing children would walk to and from school 9 months of the year like we did. Leftists are responsible that that no longer occurs.

    Another reason children don’t exercise in school is because idiot leftists didn’t’ want them to (they had to babysit them on the playgrounds during recess and didn’t want to “waste” time doing that). And then the lawyer scum was suing the pants off of school districts for injuries.

    Catholic schools, to this day, still enforce recess without much problem. And the sports programs are provided by the parents themselves (they don’t go begging to outsiders at gunpoint through taxation).

    Your neighbor’s fat kids would be none of your darn business unless they were pilfering from your fridge.

    Leftists might be happier if they minded their own business and stopped being totalitarian busybodies about other peoples’ kids who are not bothering them.

    I went to the public schools in the sixties. Smart parents back then didn’t want to have to fund after school sports either. This is an old problem.

    No intelligent person believes that the schools need more money for academics when they waste precious funds on organized sports played after school hours for a limited select group of students.

    All the funds needed to supply good health for children at school is a good pair of sneakers provided from home by parents who insist on a required time period for their kids to walk or jog sometime during the day.

    We played dodge ball like crazy during recess.

  17. PatricParamedic,

    “My statement has nothing to do with listing life degrees, which is immaterial. It has everything to do with the wholely inaccurate, lazy-journalistic use of the term ‘ ambulance driver.’”

    Could you come across as being any more ego-maniacal, K. Patrick?

    The level of competency to perform an associated procedure is irrelevant to the task involved (i.e. driving the ambulance). The person driving the ambulance is, without a doubt, the “ambulance driver”, as opposed to the person riding “shotgun”. At that point in time, the identification of any additional skill-set serves no useful or meaningful purpose.

    Your bio states “Graduate – UCSD La Jolla School of Medicine”.
    Would that be a graduate with a degree or a “certificate of completion”? Why is that important? Because for someone who becomes obnoxiously insistent on such petty irrelevant details, it’s pretty obvious that you avoided that one.

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