When an EMS Patient Confesses a Crime

By David Givot

On May 20, 2009, a Butler County, Kansas, EMT responded to the call of a 55-year-old male with unknown problems. What he found when he arrived on scene was William "Bill" Moore threatening to hurt himself or others. The EMT followed protocol and procedure and dutifully transported the patient to a nearby hospital.

Along the way, however, in addition to answering various questions about his medical and physical condition, Moore confessed that he had killed Carol Mould, who was murdered in her home in Benton in September 2004.

This is what we in the legal profession call an "Oh, $#!t!" moment. I am sure the EMT would agree. The EMT reported the confession and Moore was charged with one count of murder in the first degree. On October 7, 2009, the EMT was called to testify at Moore's preliminary hearing where he recounted his version of the call and the confession.

In EMS, just like the law, an "Oh, $#!t!" moment is one where, despite all the preparation in the world, you can just never be ready for it. Thankfully, they are relatively rare and when they happen, you can manage your way through them by following a few simple rules:

1. Remain calm. React like whatever just happened was exactly what you expected to happen.

2. Quietly consider your immediate safety and that of your coworkers.

3. Continue with your patient care as appropriate for the conditions.

4. Report your "moment" to the appropriate authority with the Zen-like rationality of Yoda.

5. Document every single detail of the "moment," including the events leading up to the "moment" and those that followed. Your documentation will come up again.

Looking back on my career as a paramedic in the field, I think it was the perpetual prospect of a "moment" waiting around any corner that made the job so much fun. Of course, nobody ever confessed a murder to me...though I have suspected a few.

About the author

David Givot, Esq., graduated from the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care (formerly DFH) in June 1989 and spent most of the next decade working as a Paramedic responding to 911 in Glendale, CA, with the (then BLS only) fire department. By the end of 1998, he was traveling around the country working with distressed EMS agencies teaching improved field provider performance through better communication and leadership practices. David then moved into the position of director of operations for the largest ambulance provider in the Maryland. Now, back in Los Angeles, he has earned his law degree and is a practicing Defense Attorney still looking to the future of EMS. In addition to defending EMS Providers, both on the job and off, he has created TheLegalGuardian.com as a vital step toward improving the state of EMS through information and education designed to protect EMS professionals - and agencies - nationwide. David is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. David can be contacted via e-mail at david.givot@ems1.com.

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