The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, April 25, 2000, Page 6, Image 6

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    Emergency service vote delayed
ByCaraPesek
Staff writer
After hours of public hearing,
members of the Lincoln City Council
voted 4-3 Monday to delay voting on
a resolution that could affect
Lincoln’s emergency medical service
providers.
Among other things, the resolu
tion calls for independent medical
oversight for pre-hospital care.
Independent medical oversight
requires someone not affiliated with
Lincoln’s emergency medical sys
tems to decide how patients should
be treated.
Currently, Emergency Medical
Systems, Inc. oversees patient emer
gency medical treatment
Doctors and members of the
Lancaster Medical Association
spoke in favor of the resolution.
Lincoln Dr. Charles Gregorius
said the quality of emergency med
ical care has declined since 1993,
when the city switched emergency
medical service providers and added
50 new paramedics.
“If you put politics first, patients
will come in last, and some patients
will come in dead last,” Gregorius
said.
Former councilman Curt
Donaldson said when the new para
medics were hired in 1993, politics
had indeed been a factor.
“I came to speak about a political
payoff I participated in in 1993,”
Donaldson said.
He said in 1993, the council
voted to approve a contract with
Eastern Ambulance to provide
Lincoln’s emergency medical servic
es, even though another EMS
provider underbid them.
Eastern Ambulance was later
bought by Rural/Metro Medical
Services, which is Lincoln’s current
EMS provider.
Donaldson said the contract
added of 50 paramedics in Lincoln,
many of which were unnecessary.
“There is no way to keep the cur
rent number of EMS people quali
fied,” he said.
Those opposed to the resolution
said they also saw problems with
Lincoln’s current emergency medical
services.
Lincoln resident Mike Morosin
said the emergency medical services
provided by Rural/Metro are both
inadequate and expensive.
He said the ambulance response
time is sometimes 20 minutes, over
twice that of the recommended time
of no more than eight minutes.
Furthermore, he said the city
could save tax money if a different
EMS service was contracted.
Councilman Jerry Shoecraft
moved to put the item on pending,
if If you put
politics first,
patients will
come in last,
and some
patients will
come in dead
last.”
Dr. Charles Gregorius
Lincoln doctor
which delays a vote until the council
is better equipped to deal with the
item.
He said since the city’s contract
with Rural/Metro is up at the end of
this year, the council should wait until
a new provider is chosen to take
action on the resolution.
In other business, the council
voted 7-0 to approve an ordinance
amending an ordinance passed in
February that bans sexual contact in
public places.
The amended ordinance makes
exceptions for theaters, art halls,
museums and similar venues.
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Constitutionality
of electrocution tested
EXECUTION from page 1
unconscious or create an anesthetic
like effect, he said.
According to court documents
and testimony, some inmates are still
breathing after the first shock, which
Soucie said makes the process cruel
and unusual.
John Peter Wikswo, a physics
professor from Vanderbilt
University, said in a deposition that
the inmate experiences pain, accord
ing to other cases.
“There has been no evidence that
judicial electrocution leads to imme
diate or instantaneous unconscious
ness,” he said.
Paula Hutchinson, a Lincoln
attorney, testified that during Otey’s
execution, he was still breathing after
the first jolt of electricity. Also, each
jolt lasted at least 30 seconds, as
opposed to the eight-second proto
col, she said.
She also heard a low growling
coming from his body after the sec
ond shock, which means he was
aware and awake, she said.
According to court documents,
after the first low-voltage shock to
Otey, the procedure was stopped for
20 seconds and then resumed.
Wikswo said when a pause in the
procedure is made and the inmate is
still alive, it creates extreme pain for
the inmate.
According to Nebraska law, after
the first round of the five steps, the
executioner must wait five minutes
to see if the inmate is alive, and if not,
the procedure is repeated.
Wikswo said when the electricity
is sent through the body, all the mus
cles contract, including the respirato
ry muscles, which results in suffoca
tion.
When the electricity is stopped
and the body is still alive, it will try to
gasp for air, implying that the person
is conscious and experiencing pain,
Wikswo said.
Also, the contracting of the
body’s muscles has created enor
mous pressure and pain on the bones,
he said.
The electricity also directly
affects the nerves and pain receptors
in the brain and throughout the body,
he said.
Wikswo said electricity does not
flow evenly in the body, which can
cause burns on the head and legs of
the inmate, where the electrodes are
placed.
Also, because Nebraska proce
dure does not require monitoring the
amount of electricity in the body, it is
difficult to determine if there is
enough electricity flowing through
the inmate’s body to cause death.
Chris Peterson, Gov. Mike
Johanns’ press secretary, said at the
beginning of the 2000 legislative ses
sion, the governor was pushing to
change Nebraska’s means of execu
tion to lethal injection because a
Florida case. The case would have
questioned the constitutionality of
electrocution in front of the U.S.
Supreme Court.
Because Florida switched their
method of execution to lethal injec
tion, the case was dropped, and
Nebraska put the legislation on the
back burner, Peterson said.
A lethal injection bill might come
before the Legislature next year, he
said.
The hearing at the law college
will conclude today.
Soucie said he expects a decision
from Hippe in a week to 10 days.
If the statute is found unconstitu
tional, Assistant Attorney General
Kirk Brown said the state would
appeal the decision to the Nebraska
Supreme Court.
If not, Mata will appear for sen
tencing in Scottsbluff on May 10.
The Associated Press con
tributed to this report.
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