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Top 10 EMS stories of 2015

Our editors’ picks for the most significant EMS stories of the year


As 2015 comes to an end, we look back at the stories that marked the past 12 months. From stories of misconduct to great examples of EMS in action, these stories were remarkable and generated discussions on the current state of EMS and the future of the profession.

1. Medics refuse to assist patients

The story of a Detroit EMT refusing to assist an infant in cardiac arrest made international news in June. Ann Marie Thomas told her boss, “I’m not about to be on no scene 10 minutes doing CPR, you know how these families get.” She was immediately removed from duty after the incident, a police investigation followed, and finally the family of the child, who later died, sued the city and the fire department.

A London paramedic, Edmund Daly, refused to respond to a call for a woman with possible pregnancy complications because he was tired in April. The medic and his crew were at the end of their 12-hour shift and the medic and team leader thought it would have been dangerous to respond to such call if too tired. The medic is now facing a misconduct hearing.

A New York EMT, William Medina, placed a fake 911 call to avoid responding to a call for a sick child. The EMT allegedly got out of his ambulance to place the phony emergency call for a man in cardiac arrest, so that he and his crew wouldn’t have to respond to a call for a child with a possible high fever in another borough.

2. Man calls 911 from ambulance

An Indiana chest pain patient called 911 from the back of an ambulance in January and complained to the dispatcher that the ambulance was going too slowly, and he wanted to get to the hospital faster.

3. Tragic and unusual deaths

An unbelted driver, Richard Pananian, was killed after being thrown out of his car and ejected onto a freeway sign. The car the 20-year-old was driving collided with another car and overturned, throwing him out of the vehicle.

A 24-year-old salon worker, Chelsea Ake-Salvacion, died from asphyxia in a Las Vegas cryotherapy chamber. The woman was alone in the shop before closing and was found dead the following morning.

Three sisters, Catie, Dara and Jana Bott, suffocated to death while playing in a truck in their family’s farm. Police said the sisters were playing on the truck as it was being loaded with canola seed and became buried by it.

4. Sudden and unexpected off-duty deaths

Chelsea Michalesko, a 24-year-old firefighter/EMT from Pennsylvania, was found dead in her vehicle under unclear circumstances. The Harwood Fire Company, where she worked, said she “succumbed to an injury sustained off duty.” The forensic investigation into Michalesko’s death was not completed until November. The coroner’s office concluded that Michalesko died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Belinda Pope, a 39-year-old EMT from England, was found dead at the ambulance station where she worked. Apparently the woman went to the station at night and died by suicide. She was found the following morning.

Anthony Iuso, a former EMT who had been missing for four days was found dead in a hospital bathroom. The operating room technician went to the ER for an injured finger and never left. He was found in a locked bathroom after the family visited the hospital to inquire about his whereabouts.

5. 911 dispatchers go above and beyond

Tim Webb, a 911 dispatcher, broke protocol and gave CPR instructions, contributing to saving the life of a 17-month-old boy in February. The Virginia police department didn’t have an emergency medical dispatch certification that allowed dispatchers to give medical instructions via phone. The dispatcher said he would rather be reprimanded then let a child die.

The acts of a 911 dispatcher who deciphered an emergency call disguised as a pizza order became a Super Bowl PSA, aired in February with the scope of raising awareness for domestic violence.

6. AMR acquires Rural/Metro

AMR announced the acquisition or Rural/Metro in July and completed it in October. AMR said the acquisition would enhance the company’s mobile integrated health care capabilities. The acquisition was part of a bigger trend of mergers happening during this past year. We asked our readers what they thought about it. Many expressed that the acquisition could benefit Rural/Metro, others were skeptical.

7. Man kills medics for wrong diagnosis

A Crimea man killed two paramedics and injured two more with a rifle in an apparent revenge killing. The 55-year-old man fled but left his cardiogram at the scene with the writing, “This is revenge.”

8. Ambulance rolls after psych patient grabs wheel

Three people were injured in July after a psychiatric patient became violent and grabbed the ambulance’s steering wheel. The incident raised the question of whether an ambulance is the appropriate vehicle to transport a medically stable psychiatric patient.

9. EMS providers always on duty

The photo of a paramedic responding to a car crash in her wedding dress became a social media sensation and appeared on virtually every major publication. Sarah Ray was on her way to her wedding reception when members of her family became involved in a vehicle collision. Ray didn’t hesitate to go and help, and later said she did what any medic would have done.

Firefighter Cody Campbell saved the life of one of his family members who was choking during his wedding reception in September. When he heard somebody yell, “My God, she’s choking!” the firefighter jumped to the rescue.

10. Memorable wedding proposals

Cameron Hill, a paramedic/firefighter who assisted Melissa Dohme after she was stabbed 32 times by her former boyfriend, proposed to her during a Rays vs. Yankees game. Dohme thought she was throwing the first pitch, but Hill surprised her with the proposal.

Karin Miller, a paramedic responding to a call, was surprised to find her boyfriend, a paramedic as well, instead of a patient, when she arrived on scene. Ethan Hill said, “I have your parents’ permission. What I want to know is, will you marry me?”

What EMS stories were your favorite, most memorable or likely to have the most lasting impact into 2016?

Capt. Jeffrey Scott Klein was in charge of a 2020 medical response that led to the death of a patient who was put in a prone position
EMT Frederick D. Whiteside, 43, was a veteran of 22 years at the FDNY
Firefighter/paramedic Brian Herr joined the department in March 2023 after relocating to Florida from Chicago
Officials forced Falck to add AMR in October to increase service