November 29, 1908
For the past week there has been no doctor at the Walnut street police station. The ambulance from this station, which is supposed to take care of every case of injury where the services of the police department are needed in the district south of Eleventh street, has been forced to respond to calls without any doctor in charge. Whether the call comes from Fifteenth street and the Blue or from Southwest boulevard and state line, all that the officers in charge of the ambulance can do is to make a run as fast as they can to the general hospital.
The cases on which the services of the police ambulance are called for are too frequently those in which a delay may mean the loss of human life. A man or a woman may take carbolic acid several miles from the general hospital. If medical treatment can be administered in fifteen minutes the person might, under ordinary conditions, recover. If, however, the treatment is delayed a few minutes, death is sure to result.
At any moment in the day or night such a case may be telephoned into the Walnut street station, which does almost as much ambulance work as the central police station.
Two years ago the appointment of ambulance and emergency surgeons was taken out of the hands of the police department and placed under the control of the health and hospital board. Under the new charter the same arrangement obtains. The reason given at the time of making the change was that the power of appointment was being used for political purposes.
However, under the old arrangement the police surgeons were paid a so-called salary of $30 a month. When the health and hospital board took charge it fixed a salary for the three doctors at the central police station, but appointed a man to work without pay at the Walnut street station. Internes at the city hospital did the work,, receiving therefor the same salary that they got for their work at the hospital, namely, their room and meals. Strange to say, several young doctors were glad to avail themselves of the opportunity to get a more complete knowledge of their profession by sewing up wounds and coaxing would-be suicides to live. Until last week the station has never been without a surgeon, and they have given excellent services, on the whole. Now no one can be persuaded to take the job.
"Only a few dollars paid to these young doctors every month would settle the whole question," said Captain Thomas P. Flahive last night. "To prevent the loss of human life something must be done at once."