NEAL P. GOSWAMI
BENNINGTON -- State officials are reviewing the Bennington Rescue Squad's response in early June to a crash in which a 28-year-old Pownal man on a motorcycle was killed.
Officials with Vermont Emergency Medical Services, part of the Vermont Department of Health, said they could not comment on whether Bennington Rescue was being investigated. But Bennington Rescue Squad Executive Director William Hathaway on Monday confirmed the investigation related to the June 8 crash. (See related article on Page A2.)
"The Department of Health is investigating the whole incident to take a look and see if proper procedures were followed. There's some speculation about whether or not the patient should have been brought directly to the ER instead of worked on at the scene due to the proximity," Hathaway said. "There's so many things at play in there. We're looking at the whole incident itself."
Hathaway said the state reviews rescue incidents when there are "extraordinary circumstances."
"In this there was. How many times do you have a motor vehicle crash, fatal motor vehicle crash, within 200, 300 yards of the ER? The question is, where is appropriate care going to be provided? Do you take a patient and just package them and take them to the ER? Do you try to do the resuscitation on scene?" Hathaway said.
Gavin Briggs, 28, of Pownal, was driving his Kawasaki motorcycle north on Dewey Street, at about 7:45 a.m., when police said he collided with a Honda CRV on Weeks Street driven by Lorraine Baker, 60, of Bennington. Baker was attempting to turn left to head south on Dewey Street when the collision occurred in the intersection, police said.
Briggs was taken to the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. (See related article on Page A2.)
Hathaway said officials are mainly looking at whether "scene management protocols" were followed. He said the state is speaking with responders from Bennington Rescue, the Bennington Fire Department and the Bennington Police Department, all of whom responded to the scene.
An ambulance was not readily available to transport Briggs to the hospital after paramedics treated him at the scene, according to Hathaway. A fireman had tried to move the ambulance and it became stuck. Other ambulances were blocked in by other vehicles, Hathaway said.
"There was a scene management issue where we couldn't maneuver the way we needed to. We couldn't get an ambulance close to the patient to move him," he said.
Emotions and tensions were also heightened because Briggs' sister, a Bennington Rescue paramedic, was a first responder on the scene and treated Briggs.
Still, Hathaway said he is confident the medical care provided by Bennington Rescue was appropriate. "Everything that we did was appropriate. Twenty-twenty hindsight is always, ‘Could we have done something differently?' There were so many confounding factors in that incident," he said.
Hathaway said Bennington Rescue could face penalties if the state finds that any laws or rules governing emergency medical professionals were broken. He said he expects no such finding.
Chris Bell, director of Vermont EMS, said there is no time frame for the review.