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Friday, April 29, 2011

The Choice

You ever run a call on that homeless guy, or the drunk (sometimes the same person) and had PD there. If so, I'm sure you've probably heard the cop give the individual in need of "help" this offer: You either go to jail or to the hospital.

I hate this phrase. I understand why officers do this. They don't want to deal with said person, they don't want to do the paperwork and they probably figure that the hospital will do more good than jail. I completely understand those points. If I were in their shoes I would be tempted to do the same thing.

But, this practice comes at a price. Now this probably inebriated person is going to 'choose' to go to the hospital. Most of the time they never called 911 and they have no medical complaint. Now we have to take an ambulance out of service.

For those of you that don't know, ambulances don't grow on trees. If you have an emergency in my area, a firefighter paramedic will be there fast and is able to perform advanced life saving medicine. But he can't get you to the hospital. So now the ambulance that would have been there in 5 minutes is now transporting someone that doesn't really want to go to the hospital. The next ambulance is coming but they are 15 minutes away.

Once the patient gets to the ER he'll take up a bed. Have you ever had to wait to be seen in the ER? Now this patient will be seated in the ER waiting room since he has no real medical complaint but he's still taking up time, space and money when he originally didn't want to be there.

So is the answer to have to cops take the guy into custody? Is that going to accomplish anything? Would it be more wasteful? Maybe there's another answer out there. I'm not sure. I just hate that offer, jail or hospital.
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