Hillsboro resident recounts EMS near-death story

Marion County commissioners heard Monday from Craig Dodd, a Hillsboro resident who described an ordeal that near­ly cost him his life.

“After all the recent newspaper articles, stories and rumors (regarding the ambulance service), you have an opportunity to hear one story from the horse’s mouth,” he said.

Dodd said he went out to his pasture Saturday, May 13, to do some manual labor.

“I started getting a head­ache, was weak and nauseous, and couldn’t under­stand why, and sat down to relax,” Dodd said. “About that time something hit me in the chest like a sledgehammer and knocked me off my feet.”

Dodd said he knew if continued to lay in the pasture, and didn’t try to get to his house, he believed he potentially could die out there, and with nobody around him.

Gathering all the strength he could, Dodd said he got to the house and collapsed on the kitchen floor.

“I was in so much pain,” he said. “My wife (Diana) went into panic mode and called 911 to get an ambulance.”

Diana Dodd said, “They are coming, they are coming, they are coming.”

Dodd said he was grateful his wife knew enough to get a full aspirin into his mouth.

“I couldn’t even open my eyes, I was in so much pain,” he said.

The Dodds called to ask where the ambulance was, and were told someone was trying to get to them.

Fifteen minutes, later Dodd said a first-responder from Hillsboro arrived.

As a “first responder,” the emergency medical person could give him oxygen and monitor blood pressure, but he couldn’t do anything else, Dodd said.

“I am exactly three miles north of the hospital,” he told Commission Chairman Randy Dallke and Commissioner Dianne Novak.

Dodd was told it was between 35-45 minutes before the ambulance arrived.

“(EMS personnel) did their job with the cards you (commissioners) dealt them,” he said. “They don’t have a place to stay, a place to convene or a proficient ambulance service.”

Once Dodd arrived at Hillsboro Community Hospital, he said the medical staff was unable to do anything for him, so he was transferred by Life Flight for a 20-minute trip to Wichita.

Dodd said he was taken to the operating room and in another 15-20 minutes doctors were able to stop the heart attack.

“I was told (by medical personnel) that another 30-45 minutes and it would have been useless,” Dodd said. “My heart was dying.”

Dodd said his point for talking about his life-threatening event was to appeal to the commissioners to think about reprioritizing EMS services.

“I know you get some of the loudest complaints about the infrastructure, and I know you are trying to fix (EMS) after a supervisor spent three of four years destroying it,” he said.

While writhing in pain and waiting for help, Dodd said he didn’t care where the road graders were parked or if the dump trucks were getting an oil change.

“At that moment, all I cared about was that ambulance getting to me,” he said.

Dodd said it took almost an hour to get an ambulance to Dan Miller in Goessel, and Miller had not survived.

“I’m not sure (if the ambulance had arrived sooner) it would have saved him, but we have to get this ambulance program fixed.”

Dodd said he wasn’t wanting to “bash” Ed Debesis, EMS director.

“(Debesis) needs help,” he said. “I was fortunate that I can come in here today and complain. If someone is bleeding to death from a chain saw, I just pray to God an ambulance will arrive in time.”

As it turned out, an ambulance from Tampa responded to Dodd’s heart attack, he said.

Novak said she’s been thinking about EMS for a long time.

“I understand the restraints of budget, but I think the backbone of EMS is volunteers,” she said.

Rather than paying volunteers $25 a run and $2 an hour, Novak said she believes they should be paid the same amount as full-time EMTs or paramedics per hour when they are on-call.

“If we paid them more, then maybe we could retain more of them,” she said.

Dodd agreed with Novak.

“We have great hospitals, great medical personnel, but they can’t do their job until the patient gets to them,” Dodd said.

Mayor Delores Dalke asked commissioners if a schedule could be emailed to the cities so they had information about services available that month.

Hefley named to SCKEDD

Russell Groves, Duane Bair and Marion City Administrator Roger Holter, mem­bers of the Marion County Community Economic Development Corp., recommended Jim Hefley to serve on the South Central Kansas Economic Development District Inc.

Prior to retiring, Hefley was president of Marion National Bank and ran the family farm. Holter said Hefley is familiar with SCKEDD’s by-laws and contacted the director to research the role.

By a vote of 2-0, with Becker absent, the commission approved the recommendation to appoint Hefley.

Other business

In other business, the com­missioners:

• tabled buying a truck for the Road & Bridge department until the price of a pup could be reviewed. The total cost for a dump truck with hitch, hydraulic and tailgate lift was estimated at $150,122.

• tabled voting on repairing a gas main until Commissioner Kent Becker returns. Dallke, employed with Atmos Energy, needed to recuse himself from the discussion and decision.

• spoke with Marion County Park and Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson and remote-control airplane enthusiasts Todd Winter and Lin Slifer about creating a landing strip near the lake. Slifer said the strip would be about 40 feet by 200 feet. Hudson said six truckloads of screening would be needed for the airstrip and it could be completed when the R&B department would have time to deliver the materials.

• entered a 15-minute executive session to discuss personnel with Deputy Marion County Appraiser Brian Frese.