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.

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