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Viewpoint: Woodbury EMS responders were at scene when hockey player was injured

The Dec. 16 story "Turner has fractured back" raises some questions about the emergency medical response when a Woodbury hockey player was injured in the Dec. 10 game against Park.

The article states that, "after approximately 20 minutes, medical workers arrived..." In reality, the response time was 37 seconds. The two police officers working the hockey game, both of whom are school resource officers, are also state certified paramedics. Both were at the player's side almost immediately and began medical care.

In the case of a possible spinal cord injury, paramedics work to immobilize the patient and provide pain management. In this case, the flat ice surface helped manage his pain and immobilize his spine while the paramedics made their assessments. The assisting ambulance crew arrived 13 minutes after they received the call. To a spectator, this probably felt like an hour. But medical care was well under way.

In Woodbury, our public safety department provides emergency medical services differently than a traditional ambulance service. This means our paramedics may come in the form of a police officer or a firefighter.

Our community standard for EMS response is to have a paramedic on scene in less than 5 minutes and an ambulance on scene within 11 minutes. It is not unusual for our response times to increase in the winter due to road conditions. Overall, our EMS response times are among the fastest in the state.

We continually review our EMS calls to learn how we can improve. After reviewing this call we will now store a backboard and blankets at the Bielenberg Sports Center. This would have helped our paramedics, who kept the patient comfortable using their coats to cover the injured player.

I am proud of the EMS service we provide to the city. It may look a bit different from traditional services, but I believe it is one of the many great reasons to live in Woodbury.

Lee Vague is director for the Woodbury Public Safety Department.