Daily Archives: February 25, 2014

Because in emergency care, every minute matters.

Students who know me well know that I am no supporter of State Patty’s Day. I’ve written before about the many ways State Patty’s Day differs from other events at Penn State. My blog today is a simple request to our students in the College of Health and Human Development-Please don’t participate in State Patty’s Day.

While I could list many, many reasons why I make that request (it’s PADDY, not Patty!!!), the most important and fundamental one for me is the impact the event has on our health system. Many students in Health and Human Development will go on to work in a health care setting. If you want to understand my request, talk with the local physicians who work in the emergency room, the nurses who care for those who show up in the ER, and the local EMTs who transport students suffering from alcohol poisoning to the ER.

In 2011, when State Patty’s Day hit its nadir, every 8 minutes a new patient arrived at the ER–half of those were individuals carried in for alcohol poisoning events. Every 7 minutes the county’s 9-1-1 emergency call center received a new call. Every 2 minutes the county’s direct line rang, since people could not get through to 9-1-1. Those statistics, of course, understate the reality, as they do not represent what was happening at the worst times on Saturday afternoon and evening. And, no, this is not just like any football Saturday–State Patty’s Day was giving the local emergency response system 40% more calls to handle than a football weekend, with far more of them being alcohol poisoning events.

As a result of State Patty’s Day, emergency response and medical personnel were swamped. Personnel and vehicles had to be requested from surrounding areas. Every minute those emergency responders were treating an alcohol poisoning case was a minute they were not available to others.

In emergency care, minutes count. In a heart attack, every minute means irreversible muscle death that cannot repaired. In a stroke, every minute means the death of 2 million neurons, irreversible brain death that cannot be repaired. If you ask me why I oppose State Patty’s Day, it’s because in emergency health care every minute matters.

I know that Health and Human Development students get this. In a few short years, some of you will be that ER nurse or that emergency medicine physician.  You will be the speech language pathologist treating a stroke victim. You will be the physical therapist helping a recovering heart attack victim. You can envision what it must be like to be put in the situation that State Patty’s Day puts our health care workers and the consequences it can have for those in need of emergency care.

So, my request is that you think about that before participating in State Patty’s Day. My request is that you talk to local emergency medical personnel about what State Patty’s Day means to their ability to care for others. My request is that you not participate in State Patty’s Day.