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Home > Topics > Fatal Incidents

SFFD: ALS response lagged in fatal statue fall on 2-year-old

Out of the 16 units on duty, only one was not on a call, but it was 4.5 miles away and took 13 minutes to respond

SAN FRANCISCO — When a dolphin statue fell on a 2-year-old Kayson Shelton, the San Francisco Fire Department said the closest ambulance was too far away. Shelton later died of his injuries.

It took 13 minutes for an ALS unit to respond. Police responded in 90 seconds, and SFFD responded in just over 2 minutes, and accessed the boy’s medical needs, reports.  The department’s goal is a response time of 10 minutes.

“In this case there were not any advanced life support measures that were performed,” SFFD Medical Director Clement Yeh said. “It was recognized early on that this boy needed to get to the hospital.”

Only one of the city’s 16 ambulances was not on a call, and that unit was 4.5 miles away from the Fisherman’s Wharf tourist area where the accident occurred.

Shelton was visiting San Francisco from Utah with his family last week, and climbed on 6-foot-tall dolphin statue outside the Majestic Art Gallery. The statue fell on top of him, and he had a nose bleed and lost consciousness. He died from internal injuries four hours later at the hospital.

SFFD spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said a faster response time most likely would not have made a difference in this case.

“We are always trying to improve our care,” Yeh said, “but the nature of this case was really tragic.”

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