West Virginia Rescuers Get Access to End-of-Life Wishes Database

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PENDLETON COUNTY, W.Va. (WHSV) -- In West Virginia, emergency responders now have access to a database from the West Virginia Center for End of Life Care.

The database will let responders know about patients' end-of-life decisions before they get to the hospital. Some people have prearranged "do not resuscitate" (DNR) plans, which would influence whether rescuers choose to perform CPR, start an IV drip, or do other potentially-lifesaving procedures.

The West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services hopes to have units across the state trained on the database by the end of the month.

Mike Alt, with Pendleton County Emergency Rescue, said, "It could be very helpful. A lot of times we may interact with these patients at a grocery store, convenience store, where they had their emergency; where their papers are at home." Alt also said that their area has a high population of elderly people, so these type of cases come up often.

However emergency responders in Pendleton County also say their limited Internet service will be an issue when trying to use the database while responding to calls.

Alt said, "We're here in rural West Virginia. There is no access to the Internet while we're running up and down the road in the back of an ambulance, so the paper version is still going to be our way of working with the family members to see what the wishes are of their loved ones."