Nevada Declared An “Ambulance Desert”: What This Means for Your Safety
According to a new nationwide study, every county in Nevada is considered what’s known as an “ambulance desert,” meaning that they are populated areas with ambulance service areas that are not adequately staffed or resourced. In fact, the entire state has the fewest number of ambulance stations per 1,000 square miles in the entire country. Specifically, in Nevada, the number of ambulance stations available is two per 100,000 residents, and fewer than three ambulances to cover every 1,000 square miles of land. With 10 percent of the state’s population residing in rural and frontier areas, accounting for almost 90 percent of Nevada’s land mass, this means long transport and difficult terrain, resulting in delayed access to care and longer wait times. According to the report, one in 10 rural patients wait more than 30 minutes for EMS personnel.
Sadly, this also translates to higher mortality rates when it comes to emergencies like car accidents, as it means less access to ambulance services to stabilize, treat, and transport people who are injured and take them to the hospital. Having to travel a greater distance to reach care is associated with poorer outcomes for the patient. In the state’s largest urban area (Clark County), the ambulance crews have just under 12 minutes to arrive for an emergency call before being considered late and out of compliance with their contractual obligations. So what does this mean for the people they are serving, and those who are counting on them to save their lives?
The Public Duty Doctrine & Nevada Good Samaritan Law
Courts in Nevada have upheld the dismissal of certain lawsuits brought against Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, and associated EMTS, in connection with delays and certain transport issues involving patients getting to hospital under what is known as the public duty doctrine and Nevada’s Good Samaritan law, which provide that fire departments and law enforcement agencies are not liable for the negligent acts or omissions of firefighters or officers, or any other person called to assist, nor are the individual officers, employees, or volunteers thereof, as they do not owe duties to individuals, but are entrusted with guarding the general health and well-being of the public as a whole. As a result, there is no private liability for a breach of that duty. Therefore, if the public duty doctrine is found to apply in a case, the City officially has immunity.
That does not mean, however, that bringing lawsuits associated with negligence are altogether off-limits: If the EMT is working for an ambulance company or healthcare provider, their employer can be liable for the negligence of their employee, and victims can file lawsuits against the ambulance company itself, or the hospital, as an employer involved in negligent hiring, training, and/or supervising.
Contact Our Las Vegas, Nevada Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured or otherwise harmed in connection with ambulance services, contact the Las Vegas personal injury attorneys of Cameron Law to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help.