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Letter to editor: Nurse shares story of medical emergency; urges Anderson Ferry train employees

Medical Emergency on Anderson Ferry

A couple of weeks ago, my friends, Mary, Jim, and I were en route to Kentucky when Jim, the driver, suddenly complained about feeling unwell and having trouble breathing.

Given his history of allergies and our nursing backgrounds, Mary and I suspected a severe allergic reaction.

Jim had his nebulizer and Epi-Pen and promptly used them.

Mary took over driving. She hailed the Anderson Ferry crew saying: “He can’t breathe, where’s the nearest hospital?”

The crew person said he didn’t know and yelled “Where’s the nearest hospital?” and someone yelled back: ”St. E’s.”  We put St. Elizabeth into the GPS and were shocked when it took us to a closed facility.

We put St. Elizabeth Emergency into the GPS and called 911, but Jim, struggling to breathe, decided not to wait.

With taillights flashing and purposely speeding down I-275, Mary, instructing Jim to breathe slowly and visualize a very peaceful place. As soon as Mary saw a police car, she pulled over.

The officer called 911 and reassured Jim as we waited anxiously. Jim was eventually stabilized in the ambulance and with lights blazing taken to the ER. Two hours later he was admitted to St. Elizabeth’s ICU in anaphylactic shock.

I contacted Anderson Ferry upon returning home. When they called back, I proposed that having emergency information on board would enhance their service and ensure traveler safety.

I was informed that their crew is instructed to advise people to call 911.

However in my view, their protocol is inadequate, and it was not followed in this instance.

Reaching the emergency room promptly is crucial in saving lives and minimizing long-term disabilities that can happen with a heart attack or stroke or diabetic coma.

I urge Anderson Ferry to provide current information on the closest emergency rooms on both sides of the river.

Please help us by contacting Anderson Ferry at (859) 586-5007 and asking for this service.

Ruth Kohake, RN

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One Comment

  1. Tom Baumann says:

    Based on your description of the facts, I am not sure what more could have been done by the staff of Anderson Ferry.

    St. Elizabeth Hospital is in fact the closest hospital from the Anderson Ferry, on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. As far as I know, both St. Elizabeth Edgewood and Covington emergency departments are open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Both are about a 15-minute drive in normal traffic from Constance, Kentucky.

    Rather than pointing a finger at Anderson Ferry, I would suggest you contact your GPS provider and see why it directed you to someplace other than one of the two hospitals. Furthermore, according to your account of events, you called 911 ‘but Jim, struggling to breathe, decided not to wait.’ I believe Hebron Fire Protection District services the area around Constance, Kentucky. Under normal driving conditions you can drive from either of their two fire stations in about 10 minutes. An emergency vehicle certainly takes less time than that. I know, in situations like this, minutes seem like hours but simply waiting for the ambulance you summoned was the best option.

    Again, I am not sure what more could have been done by the staff of Anderson Ferry. It sounds like the decisions made but you and/or Jim caused delay in Jim receiving appropriate care. It certainly does not sound like it was caused by the staff of Anderson Ferry.

    I do sincerely hope that Jim is okay and recovers fully from this incident.

    As a side note, I am not affiliated with the Anderson Ferry in any way but do have a background in field of emergency response.

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