UNAVAILABLE: Southern Paramedics provides ambulance service to Clinton, but rules prevented it from transporting an injured man to Little Rock recently. He died without advanced treatment.

  • UNAVAILABLE: Southern Paramedic provides ambulance service to Clinton, but rules prevented it from transporting an injured man to Little Rock recently. He died without advanced treatment.

Leslie Newell Peacock reports further on circumstances in the death of a Clinton lawyer following a brief scuffle with a man he tried to bar from his restaurant.

Though it wasn’t mentioned specifically, the incident involving Brett Blakney of Clinton, who died of a head injury May 4 because there was no transport available to take him from the county facility to Little Rock’s advanced care hospitals, prompted much discussion at Tuesday’s Trauma Advisory Council meeting about the need for change in transport rules and regulations.

Blakney, 43, the former Clinton city attorney, was taken to Van Buren County Memorial Hospital after a man punched him and knocked him to the ground outside Blakney’s restaurant, the Black Dog Grill around 10 p.m. May 3. Responsive at first, Blakney later became unresponsive at the hospital and an emergency room nurse there told police that unless he was transported, “he’s going to lay here with that head injury and bleed to death.”

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By the time the hospital determined that no helicopter would be available because of fog, Southern Paramedic had sent one of its two ambulances in Clinton to Little Rock with another patient and rules didn’t allow the other ambulance to leave the county, CEO Gary Padget said. Blakney died at the hospital around 4 a.m.

Emergency Medical Services rules and regulations currently require that 911 calls take precedence over hospital transport, which meant Southern could not release its one ambulance in Clinton for out-of-county transfers until the second had returned to the county.

Dr. Todd Maxson, the health department’s medical consultant, said the trauma system should create an urgent trauma transfer rule, adding, “The [trauma] patient has to have the same priority as a person calling 911.”