WSB-TV of Atlanta has this amazingly horrific story about an EMT crew getting into an altercation that resulted in damage to homeowners in a Duluth neighborhood. Normally when you hear stories like this it’s an altercation with a bystander, family member, or other local person. Unauthorized people will occasionally steal an ambulance and take it for a joyride or a police chase. This isn’t the case here.
The EMTs had an altercation between themselves.
The man, who originally was driving the ambulance that belonged to private company Med Care EMS Transport, said he and Lathon worked for a Buford company and had been arguing all day, Washington said. The men went to the subdivision to pick up a person and realized they had left their wheelchair at the hospital. That caused additional tension, the man told police.
The men went back to the hospital, picked up the wheelchair and returned to the location, Washington said. The driver asked Lathon to take the wheelchair to the passenger. Instead, Lathon got out, walked around the ambulance, grabbed the driver by the throat and pulled him out of the vehicle, Washington said.
At that point, Lathon pulled a knife and chased the man around the ambulance. Lathon then jumped into the driver’s seat as the other man jumped onto the ambulance’s rear bumper, Washington said.
Lathon sped off as the other man clung to the ambulance, Washington said, and the man jumped off the bumper soon after. Lathon continued through the neighborhood, striking at least five mailboxes, a transformer, and driving through several yards and over curbs.
This is one of those stories that truly makes me cringe. Not only does it portray EMTs as unprofessional, uncaring, and thuggish but it also seems to illustrate the industry’s continual “as pulse and a card” or “meat in the seat” mentality.
Hypothetically another aspect it seems to shine a light on in the underlying tones is that of an industry that breeds resentment through the mistreatment of each other. This is the type of behavior I highlighted in the All I Want For EMS Week post… the type where we eat our young and each other.
It’s relatively easy for me to imagine that while the EMT Kyle Lathon is 22 years old, his partner who was the driver is both older and had seniority. I’m sure the “head butting” that went on all day was partially because Kyle felt that the other man was acting more like a boss than a partner. Add onto the fact that EMS is rarely the experience that people are sold it is through the movies, television shows, and even EMT schools to create a resentment towards doing the work within that type of bullying environment is an absolute recipe for disaster.
Come to think of it, I’m surprised we don’t see more stories like this.
I’m not sure how they do it in Georgia, but where I come from each member of the crew has certain responsibilities. Paperwork, assessment, treatment, hand-off, and general care duties falls to the EMT in the back. Patient’s belongings, making the stretcher, restocking and straightening up the back of the rig responsibilities falls to the person driving. If it’s a similar system, then forgetting the wheelchair was the driver’s fault. So I can understand why Lathon would be angry when his partner failed to do his part AND then he was “asked” (probably more like told) to bring the wheelchair to the patient.
This doesn’t excuse his despicable behavior which is deplorable and a blight to us all.
This is just admitting that I can see how it can happen, and it really shouldn’t be that big of a shock when the EMS Culture itself seems toxic to those looking to come into the industry.