Going for a ride in the big red ambulance

I got a letter signed by someone I know only as a concerned old lady who says the East Fork Paramedics aren't taking her and her friends where they want to go. She apparently wants to go to Barton's Carson Valley Medical Center and said the medics don't want to take her there.

If she'd signed the letter, I would have just run it, but since she didn't, I called Bobby Wartgow of the East Fork Paramedics.

The simple answer, Bobby said, is that the medics need to balance where someone wants to go against where they need to go.

If the issue is critical, the patient goes to the nearest treatment center regardless and then most likely on from there.

If someone's condition is such that the medics can have a conversation with the patient, generally they try to nudge them to the medical institution that is best qualified to treat them.

If I were to have that heart attack I've been working on for the last two decades, Care Flight would fly me to the nearest cardiac unit. If it was just chest pains, such as those often caused by anonymous letter writers, I'd probably go to Minden because, chances are I would end up at Carson-Tahoe for stress tests and stuff like that.

If on the other hand, I injured my ankle while jumping to a conclusion or overreaching for a headline pun, Bobby said there's no place better than Barton.

Complicating the matter is the long history of competition between Carson-Tahoe and Barton for the hearts and hernias of Carson Valley residents.

I've been watching that fight since 1989. It was one of the reasons Carson-Tahoe went from being a county hospital to a private non-profit.

Bobby and I plan to sit down and talk about this issue further.

-- n n

The Fossett search moved out of Carson Valley and into Carson City on Wednesday, which pretty much transferred it out of The Record-Courier as well.

I've been to a lot of press conferences with Trooper Chuck Allen, Maj. Cynthia Ryan, Maj. Ed Locke, Capt. April Conway, Lyon County Undersheriff Joe Sanford and a variety of press people, including Nevada's Associated Press Carson Valley contingent Tom Gardner, Sandy Chereb and Brendan Riley.

Covering Fossett on the Web has also sparked some interesting conversations and tips.

I got the usual collection of e-mails from people living in France showing Google Earth images featuring indeterminate white splotches. I talked to a gentleman from Idaho who said he was checking with recordcourier.com two or three times a day to follow the search. I got an e-mail suggesting Fossett's plane crash set the Moonlight fire.

I was there when there were two-dozen reporters replete with satellite trucks and I was there when it was just Sandy and I sitting at the picnic table talking to the public information folks.

"I was impressed at how we all worked together," Trooper Chuck said as what was left of the press corps gathered around the table. "There were no turf wars. From day 1 there were no disagreements at all. We came out and took a three-prong approach with the state, the National Guard and the Civil Air Patrol."

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I was supposed to interview a mountain lion in today's column, but as cats are notorious liars, I felt the space was better used for other things.

-- Kurt Hildebrand is editor of The Record-Courier. Reach him at khildebrand@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 215


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