Death in public places, is your organization prepared? We were not

The Chief of the Manatee County Emergency Medical Services in West Bradenton, Fla., shares lessons learned from a recent incident and local fallout

After the incident in West Bradenton, EMS1 reached out to Paul DiCicco, chief of the Manatee County Emergency Medical Services. He shares the hard lessons learned from dealing with a death in public and how other EMS agencies can learn from this unfortunate incident.

By Paul DiCicco, BS, EMT-P

On Wednesday, February 28, I received an email from a county commissioner expressing a complaint from a citizen immediately after the death of an individual in a public park. The complainant was a family member and expressed concerns about the length of time it took to remove the deceased from the park and questioned why the ambulance left the scene. The commissioner received an additional complaint from the funeral home chosen by the family.

I assigned the investigation to the assistant chief of operations to handle. Both the family member and funeral home were contacted, their concerns noted. The assistant chief briefed me on the details of his investigation. He even mentioned that the family member that he talked with worked for our EMS service until early 90s. Given that all involved were satisfied, we made a note to talk with the Sheriff at our next meeting and closed the investigation.

On Thursday, March 22, I arrived at the office just a little past seven in the morning. I began the mundane task of email triage when an email from one of our commissioners immediately caught my eye. Her email was a follow up to a complaint that she received back in late February relating to a family’s concerns about a death in a local public park. With immediate concern and confusion, I began to look into the new facts presented in the email and determined that the individual that she was speaking with was someone that we had not been in contact with. I forwarded the contact information to the individual assigned to the initial investigation. He immediately made contact with her and listened to her concerns. The initial investigation remained open, as we couldn’t bring closure until a meeting was scheduled with the Sheriff’s office.

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