This is a follow-up post to EMT Suspended For Stopping To Help Choking Girl… Or Was He?
Yesterday I posted about EMT Qwasie Reid who was reportedly suspended for stopping while he was transporting a stable patient to a long-term care facility for a girl who was choking inside of a school. The majority of the media reports focused on the fact that he had been suspended for this heroic act. I read the stories, and I had some questions because something just didn’t sit right with me.
I find it hard to believe that Assist Ambulance, no matter how insurance money driven or morally corrupt they may be, would suspend someone for just helping a choking child. I mean really. IF that were truly the case you probably would have heard about them already, and I’d be buying the gasoline to burn the place down myself. What none of the articles mentioned was what happened to the original patient. Now maybe that’s because I hate having unresolved story arcs or not knowing every little detail, but that omission to me was glaring. So I made some guesses and, as it turns out, I wasn’t too far off.
Sure enough, through Ann Marie Farina, I was pointed to this article from the NY Daily News. In the middle of the article are these two lines (emphasis my own):
About four minutes later, an FDNY team arrived and took the girl to Woodhull Hospital.
Reid, who went along for the ride, said he had been the one who called 911.
Right. It says right there that EMT Reid “went along for the ride”, meaning that he never went back to the ambulance he arrived in.
So let’s just be completely clear about what EMT Reid actually did here. He was flagged down outside the school. He went inside, presumably with equipment from the ambulance he had been driving, while his partner waited with his stable patient outside. He cleared her airway, put on an “oxygen mask”, applied an AED, and began CPR. Oh, he also now was the one who reportedly called 9-1-1. About four minutes later*, FDNY arrived on the scene, took over care, and transported the child to the hospital. EMT Reid went along for the ride with FDNY and left his patient and partner behind in an idling ambulance on the side of the road. Maybe he gave his partner the equipment back, maybe he didn’t, maybe he didn’t even take equipment with him into the school from the ambulance… those details are still missing from the story. What the Daily News article does shed light on and make clear is that he was NOT suspended for helping a child, but rather he was suspended for abandoning his partner and his patient.
About Patient Abandonment
Now before everyone whips out their lawyer cards from the highly prestigous Internet School of EMS Law, let’s look at what the very same internet says about the definition of patient abandonment:
So now let’s forget that the internet is apparently askew (like the women on The View are regarding stethoscopes) in thinking that only physicians have relationships with patients, and let’s say that there is a patient relationship between the patient and any healthcare provider including the ambulance driver (whether they are an EMT or not). So keeping the definition in mind let’s look at what happened again with EMT Qwasie Reid:
- He was flagged down outside the school – no problem here, it happens
- He went inside, presumably with equipment from the ambulance he had been driving, while his partner waited with his stable patient outside – Still no problem here, I believe we can all agree that anyone in acute is a reasonable excuse. If his partner had gone with him, leaving behind a stable patient, I STILL would not have a problem with this. I believe the matter of abandonment goes in large part to intent. While the road to hell is paved with good intentions, they were good intentions nonetheless… but that’s my interpretation and one I’m willing to argue for
- He cleared her airway, put on an “oxygen mask”, applied an AED, and began CPR. Oh, he also now was the one who reportedly called 9-1-1 – I still have no issue with this at all, except of course for the fact that it bothers me the school seemed unequipped to handle this type of an emergency and that does truly worry me
- About four minutes later, FDNY arrived on scene, took over care, and transported the child to the hospital – I’m still fine with everything that he’s done so far, and now FDNY is on scene which means there is another ambulance and at least two if not more EMTs plus I’m sure it was a Segment 2 which means an ALS unit was en route IF it was not actually already the first one on scene
- EMT Reid went along for the ride with FDNY and left his patient and partner behind in an idling ambulance on the side of the road – Here’s where I have the problem. Once the FDNY unit was on the scene, he should have handed over care and gone back to his original patient. Once the FDNY unit arrived the child had a qualified replacement care provider in place, he no longer had a reasonable excuse, and EMT Reid should have returned to his original patient
At point #5 is where I believe this turned into patient abandonment. Because of that, I can understand why Assist Ambulance suspended him. So the real question is…
What Do You Think???
I’m going to blog about the results of this poll later on, so go ahead and take it. If you want to provide reasoning behind your answer then please feel free to leave a comment.
*NYC has recently had delayed EMS response times as highlighted in the post NYC Ambulance Delays Reportedly Continue Despite Mayor DeBlasio Promises. The average response time citywide for an NYC ambulance is 12 minutes and 23 seconds, so the “4 minutes” is well below that average, indicating that someone else PROBABLY did call 9-1-1. HOWEVER having witnessed DOE personnel NOT notify 9-1-1 or medical staff directly of an injury AND instead having called the parents and told THEM to call 9-1-1 for an ambulance for their child (even though they were not there), if that’s what the school had done it wouldn’t shock me. For that matter, it seems to be an institutional issue that really needs to be addressed.