More questions raised about Glenpool's 'First Responders' program


Thursday, April 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


More complaints about poor emergency service in Glenpool. News on Six reporter Tami Marler reported Wednesday about the death of 73-year-old Earl Jackson.

The retired minister collapsed in his yard while mowing his lawn. Even though his neighbors tried to save him, he died and they're outraged. They say Glenpool Police officers were the first responders, but did nothing to help.

Officials say since the 911 call was made from a cellular phone, it was routed to EMSA headquarters in Tulsa. Four minutes later, Life Stat ambulance service in Glenpool was paged. That was just the beginning of Earl Jackson's last day.

A number of people called us after our story aired Wednesday, with additional complaints about police mishandling medical emergencies and what they say is the city's incompetent ambulance service.

Earl Jackson's neighbors grow even more outraged, and some police officers are demanding action. Resident, Darla Love: "What if one of my kids get hurt, or myself, or another neighbor? Is the police going to be able through first response be able to come and help in a time that we need 'em?" Another resident, Billie Jean Stuart: "Nobody really was prepared when they showed up to help this man. Officers were no help."

That was the frustration among Earl Jackson's neighbors after they say Glenpool Police failed to take charge. Glenpool Police officer Bart Harris says they're mistaken. A certified first responder, he says he acted according to protocol. "I went over and started assisting him. I opened the airway, told him to stop chest compressions, checked for a pulse, didn't get a pulse. By that time, the ambulance had arrived."

None of the witnesses we spoke with saw Harris go near Jackson, but Chris Langham of Life Stat ambulance service confirmed the officer did assist medics. He says Harris was in fact the only officer to help, and that's just the beginning of the differences in stories.

Harris, "Said they were having difficulty finding the location, so I left my post at the school and started that way." Harris said he heard scanner traffic that the ambulance was headed in the wrong direction, so he and detective Dennis Waller left their posts. Dennis Waller: "Apparently they were having trouble finding it; one of our street officers observed them going northbound on highway 75, totally in the wrong direction." Chuck Smith says officers routinely drop their duties to lead Life Stat to a scene, an allegation Life Stat denies.

Still, the police union is filing a complaint. "We do not have faith in the ambulance service as it is currently staffed; as it is currently run." Billie Jean Stuart: "There was supposed to be two paramedics in the vehicle, I never think but I seen but one of 'em, and she looked at me and said 'I need someone that can stay calm here." Chuck Smith with the police union: "They were in essence working that ambulance with just one person at that time, due to the fact that the second person on that unit wasn't able to perform. It was a very stressful situation."

A situation Jackson's neighbors say trained professionals should have been able to handle. Life Stat General Manager Chris Langham says even with the wrong turn, the ambulance made it to Jackson's house in an acceptable response time and the company stands behind its response record.

Langham says they are investigating claims that one of the medics failed to perform her duties.