EMT Qwasie Reid has been reportedly suspended by Assist Ambulance for an unauthorized stop while transporting a stable nursing home patient to help a girl choking in a school. There have been numerous news stories about this including from WUSA9, FOX News, NY1, and EMS1.com. Here is the video from NBC News 4:
UPDATE ON THIS POST 10/30/15 AT: EMT Suspended For Abandoning Patient And Partner… NOT For Stopping To Help Choking Girl
The story is really pretty simple. EMT Reid was transporting a stable patient to a nursing home. While stopped at a red light he was approached by a School Safety officer and told that there was a choking child inside the school. Reportedly his partner advised against him leaving, but he left the vehicle (presumably in the road) with equipment and went into the school. There he found 7-year old Noelia Echavarria cyanotic and unresponsive. He reportedly applied an AED, cleared her mouth, put on an “oxygen mask”, and performed CPR. The Fire Department of New York arrived on scene a few minutes later. Reportedly Assist Ambulance suspended EMT Reid without pay.
This is such an interesting case. This is the damned if you do part when compared to the FDNY Dispatchers who left Au Bon Pain without rendering aid back in 2013. It seems so simple… yet for some reason it seems WAY too simple to me. These stories are never truly this simple.
Is the reason Assist Ambulance suspended EMT Reid because he left his patient to render aid until FDNY got there? OR did they suspend him because he just flat out left his patient?
We are missing a lot to this story
We are missing what time 9-1-1 was called, who called it, and what was the response time of the ambulance? Who transported Echevarria to the hospital? Was it just the FDNY ambulance, or did Reid go along and leave his partner and patient on the street? How did the patient that was in the back of the ambulance get to their destination and how long was the delay? In one of the clips Reid clearly states that Echevarria took precedence over the patient he had in the back of the ambulance, which I can agree with a critical patient taking precedence over a stable patient, but at what point was the stable patient back to being the priority? Technically once the 9-1-1 responding unit was on scene, Reid could leave. Did he?
The problem is that the mainstream media is not asking these questions. They just hear a tragic story, have the perception of wrongdoing, and begin to beat the war drums about things they know nothing about. What’s worse is that opinions are being taken as fact, such as what the Assist Ambulance policy actually says regarding whether a unit can respond to a call if they aren’t dispatched to it. The New York State Department of Health will be the first people to tell you that such a policy is needed… otherwise all the wacker buff zero-2-heroes out there will be racing all over the city trying to “save lives”.
The part where I get disappointed is when I see EMS1.com and EMSWorld syndicating the same content. These are industry media organizations that should know better. They should be looking to ask these actual questions.
As for legally, I know it’s going to hurt people to hear once again, but Duty To Act does not apply in New York City. We saw this when the charges against the FDNY dispatchers were dropped in 2013 and the lawsuit against them thrown out in 2014.
In the end none of this changes the one thing that truly matters. Whatever Reid did or what was done to him should not distract from the fact that what happened to Noelia Echavarria is a tragedy. I’d rather see the focus looking at preventing, or at least better preparing the faculty AND the students of New York City, for just such an emergency to prevent future tragedies from happening.
But that’s just my opinion.