Medical emergency shows gap in Atlanta's airport response

The case of a heart attack patient who collapsed in front of the airport terminal exposed a gap in medical response at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

A Good Samaritan saw the elderly man and called out to airport workers. 

They made calls to 911, which went directly into the airport's independent communications center. 

If that call had been made in the morning or afternoon, mobile fire paramedics who patrol the facility could have been there in under three minutes once dispatched.

But the bike EMTs worked only until 6 p.m. All had left for the day.

The man collapsed in the early evening. He died. No one can say if his illness had been far enough along, that a quick response might have made a difference.

However, Dustin Hillis, a councilman, has pressed the Atlanta fire command to extend the medical coverage inside the airport facility to align with passenger traffic. 

Rod Smith, who has just taken over as chief, pledged that extended coverage is now happening. The bike paramedics are on staggered shifts, covering the facility until eleven in the evening.

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