Ambulance Chaser

The failure of the EMS system continues to cost people their lives

By Christopher Wink
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 8 | Posted Mar. 3, 2009

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Medic alert: Firefighters union representative Dave Kearney has been sounding the alarm about ambulance response times for years.

It’s been more than a year, but Vlad Glikman is still searching for accountability in his mother death.

Jan. 20, 2008: Glikman receives a frantic call from his 81-year-old father telling him that his mother, Adalina, is unconscious in their Somerton apartment in the Northeast. His father says a private ambulance company, Century, is on the way. Twenty minutes later, Glikman arrives at his parents’ home and finds his mother on the ground, still unconscious, with no ambulance in sight. His father calls Century again, but according to Glikman, the ambulance driver says he can’t get his engine started due to the blistering cold. Desperate to save his mother, Glikman dials 911. Fifteen minutes later—far too late by most national standards—a city-dispatched ambulance arrives just in time to pronounce her dead.

Nine months after Adalina’s death, Glikman filed a complaint against Century Ambulance with the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, a part of the Pa. Department of Health.

Glikman alleges that the roughly 35-minute lapse between the time he received the call from his father and the time the 911-dispatched ambulance showed up cost his mother her life. The 55-year-old says at the very least the Century driver should’ve called 911 when he realized he couldn’t get to the scene.

Vlad Glikman isn’t the first city resident to complain about Philadelphia’s ambulance services, whether provided by private companies or the city itself. In 2006, PW’s Mike Newall exposed the city as being dangerously underserved by EMS. At the time, the Philadelphia Fire Department had 40 ambulance squads, 28 of which were full-time. Today, there are 10 more, but according to the International Association of Fire Fighters, Philadelphia should have at least 70 full-time ambulances, especially given the city’s growing need.

Residents often rely on private companies, especially after their faith in city services is compromised. Though their main purpose is for general, not emergency, transport, the number of private ambulances has swelled because of response time troubles with city- dispatched ambulances.

In last month’s Daily News, Dave Davies quoted Rob Berkoff of Northeast Community Ambulance, a private company, as saying: “The city doesn’t have the money or manpower now to handle [the volume]. If they would incorporate us into the 911 system, it would help.” That doesn’t seem to be on the table. And there’s no guarantee every private or nonprofit company could manage the added responsibility.

“That Century driver was thinking about charging my parents or Medicaid for that ride. He wasn’t thinking about my mother’s life,” says Gilkman. “I know what they should have done and they didn’t do it.”

 


The consequences of inadequate ambulance services in the city continue to reverberate. At the end of 2007, City Controller Alan Butkovitz released a report revealing that Philadelphia EMS units arrive late 40 percent of the time. There was the widely reported story of Deborah Payne, a Northeast resident who died New Year’s Day 2008 while waiting two hours in her Holmesburg apartment for an advanced life unit. A Fire Department report said that the city just ran out of paramedics. Then, last month, there was the YouTube video of two cops arguing as a West Philadelphia man bled on the street. Witnesses on the scene claim it took almost an hour for an ambulance to arrive.

Now private ambulance drivers say they’re feeling the brunt of the city’s failure. “Excuse my French,” says Aleksey Lomov, the Century driver who received the initial call from Glikman’s father, “but Vlad Glikman is the biggest asshole in the world.”

Lomov says that with a beleaguered city force, private ambulance companies are becoming an easy target for disgruntled residents like Glikman. He says Glikman’s claims of gross negligence are “nothing but rumors that are starting to hurt our business.”

The besieged driver claims that he did respond to the Glikman residence, arriving just before the city ambulance, and while he admits to taking “a long time,” he also says that when Glikman’s father called the first time, he said only that a woman had fallen, not that she was unconscious.

There are at least 75 private ambulance companies in Philadelphia, says Lomov, and some operate better than others. He believes this isn’t really a fight about response time, but rather about Glikman’s desire to place blame for his mother’s death.

As for Glikman, he’s swimming in bureaucracy. The state cleared Century of any wrongdoing, so the grieving son took a swing at the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, filing a complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Last week, that too was rejected.

“The Philadelphia Regional EMS Council investigated and concluded that there was no incorrect medical care given by Century Ambulance,” says Stacy Kriedeman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health.

The state did find violation in regards to response time. But Century submitted a plan of correction, and now the case is closed. Civil action is the only option Glikman has left, but he says he doesn’t want money.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 8 of 8
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1. Anonymous said... on Mar 4, 2009 at 01:07PM

“I think Controller Alan Butkovitz should be commended for trying to do something about the EMS issue. This fact is one of the reasons why he should be re-elected as Controller. Visit his website http://alanbutkovitz.com for more information.”

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2. pete said... on Mar 5, 2009 at 05:20AM

“There are some valid points in your article, however as an ER doc in the city with a very long experience with EMS usage, I think this article misses a huge problem of abuse of the system. Well over 50% of the EMS calls are abusing the service as a glorified taxi service.
It is impossible to give a realistic critique of the system without addressing the abuse by the citizenry. In my experience the medics work very hard, but are often ground down by a huge overuse of their service for issues such as mild ankle sprains, common cold, need tylenol, and at least twice a day the 911 call for toothache.
More medics, better laws etc etc are perfectly valid, but these issues pale in comparison to the tsunami of overuse

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3. Aleks said... on Mar 9, 2009 at 07:54AM

“OK! Now it is a time to tell what happen that day.Yes we are received a call from Mr Glikman father., But he did not tell us everything.That day a temperature was low(19*F),and we have a problem with start.But we are arrived at scene in 20 min,and second call from Mr Glikman was at his residence.We found Adelina Glikman laying on a floor in a perfect supine position. with a bruise on her forehead.She was unconscious and unresponsive.I,m started one man CPR when my partner jump to the truck for BVM, when he return ,he take a turn and I call 911 about "code blue".911 dispatcher asked me if the address correct? Because he received the same call but with a different address.On a way to the residence we saw a 911 unit with a fire truck circling around this area.As soon they are get a right location - 911 arrived to the scene.
Before 911 arrival me and my partner continue CPR, when we checked her pulse and breathing Mr Vlad Glikman started yelling on us why we stop CPR? He said "You can't stop! You Must continue!" On my question "Why he tell us what to do?" He reply - "I HAVE A CPR LICENSE!".
Now I have a some questions!
1.Why Vlad Glikman gave wrong address to 911?
2. Why Vlad Glikman did not use his knowledge to save his mother?
3.Why Mr.Wink did not say all of this in his article. even he new about this after his phone conversation with me?

Aleksey V.Lomov .”

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4. Anonymous said... on Nov 23, 2011 at 03:12PM

“I am a emt and have been one for four years. I'm writing this comment to inform whoever this may concern. Working for a couple private businesses uncovered the dirty truth about private ambulance companies in phila especially in NE phila. One of the companies i've worked for was Life Support Co. runned by Bogdan Kmet. I dont even know when or where to start on how much illegal activity goes on during work time. I've seen co workers doing drugs including the owner of the company. Not only that trucks not being legally authorized to operate. Medical supplies missing in the trucks, and when owner was informed he did not do anything about at. The treatment of patients and being on time. The list goes on and on. I swear if someone investigated Life Support ambulance company, they would be shocked how it is operated. I was treated like dirt working for that company. Paychecks were bounced, and basically everything I was ordered to do was illegal. I hope someone starts busting these companies”

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5. daboyM said... on Dec 29, 2011 at 10:36PM

“to the dude above this post, GET YOUR MIND RIGHT HATER !!”

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6. Anonymous said... on Dec 29, 2011 at 10:55PM

“This is Bogdan Kmet a vice president of Life Support Ambulance and I don't need to hide my identity because what I'm about to write is the truth and not a bunch of lies like this person that is writing and covering up his identitie!!! Life Support ambulance is a professional company that is inspected by the health department and many more medical institutions in the state of Pensylvania so any one that is saying any different is lying to you because they are our competitors in the medical field and if any one has any dowd they can contact us at any time and see for them selfs!!! I am a bigger man and I will not trash any ones reputation by lying because they are doing it them selfs by the horrible service they provide!!! So don't believe the lies and see for you're self by contacting us thrue our website at lifesupportambulance.com and let us prove to you that we are the best in the ambulance industry!!! Happy holidays and God bless!!!”

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7. Anonymous said... on Apr 23, 2012 at 08:58PM

“life support is a fruad......shaming the good honest companys working”

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8. Anonymous said... on May 4, 2012 at 02:33PM

“Listen anonymous who ever the hell you are, your a punk running your mouth over the computer trying to ruin people's lives and interfere with their businesses. You say you worked for that company.. But there's obviously a reason your idiotic self was fired. If you have so much to say MAX then you shouldn't hide you identity and be a man about all that talking you like to do. Do everyone a favor and get a life, your not even qualified to talk shit on anyone's company bc all you'll ever be is a punk a$$ EMT worker.”

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Regarding Christopher Wink’s recent story about a woman’s death due to the slow response of a private ambulance service: Ok! Now it’s time to tell what happen that day. Yes we are received a call from Mr. Glikman father. But he did not tell us everything. That day a temperature was low (19 degrees F), and we have a problem with start. But we are arrived at scene in 20 min., and second call from Mr. Glikman was at his residence. We found Adelina Glikman laying on a floor in a perfect supine position, with a bruise on her forehead. She was unconscious and unresponsive. I started one man CPR when my partner jump to the truck for BVM, when he return he take a turn and I call 911 about “code blue.” The 911...

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