Part 1: Are We Any Better Than the Cable Company?

Last week our cable went out, I experienced the worst customer service from Comcast Cable than I have from any other company.  I had some time to think during the multiple windows during which one of their techs was supposed to show up but didn’t, which usually turns into a post.

I started thinking about what EMS would be like if we gave people windows when we might show up but never did.  Then I thought about the EMS services I’ve been a member of where calls were toned out.  People dropped what they were doing, drove to the station, and picked up the ambulance.  If the ambulance did not go responding within 5 minutes, there was another tone  out.  After 15 minutes, the next closest station was toned, and a nearby private service was called about 25 minutes after the initial 911 call.

The ambulance was required to respond with at least a qualified driver and EMT, intermediate, or paramedic.  Response was initiated when the first two qualified people arrived at the station, no matter what the call was for.  If ILS or ALS was needed for a call but did not make the initial response, the tones cycle would start again.  The EMT or intermediate would then decide how long to wait on on scene or initiate transport.

To summarize, when people in this affluent suburban community called 911 for something they believed was an emergency, they depended on two people who had nothing better to do at the moment than to answer it.  To  be fair, the service now has paid staff and the tone outs don’t happen until the second or third concurrent incident.  But there’s still a prevailing “you’re lucky to get us when we get there” attitude that reminds me of the cable company.

As frustrating as that experience was, it wasn’t from the inconvenience of having to wait at home.  I was off those days anywhere, and there was plenty to do around the house.  What I really hated was feeling helpless.  After trying antennas and internet streaming, Comcast remained the most cost effective option for us.  We are stuck with the evil empire, it knows we are stuck, and there’s nothing we can do about it besides not watch TV.

I imagine people feel even more helpless waiting for EMS to arrive when they are sick or injured.  They believe that they can no longer manage a situation without help, and are at the mercy of the system their community has in place.  We have a lot room to get better with this.

There’s more to our nightmare with the cable company, and more parallels to EMS in part 2.








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