2 Mo. providers hurt in fatal rollover ambulance crash released from hospital

The patient died at the scene, and the Johnson County Ambulance District medic who was in the back suffered lacerations to his head


UPDATED (5:30 p.m. May 2): 

By Anna Spoerre
The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Both ambulance crew members injured in a rollover crash that killed a patient Sunday in Kansas City are now at home recovering, authorities said Tuesday, as the investigation into what caused the crash continues.

The Johnson County Ambulance District is making sure its crew members’ injuries are being taken care of, said Chief Shane Lockard. It will also provide follow up mental health services to help them deal with the traumatic event.
The Johnson County Ambulance District is making sure its crew members’ injuries are being taken care of, said Chief Shane Lockard. It will also provide follow up mental health services to help them deal with the traumatic event. (Photo/Johnson County Ambulance District)

The captain paramedic who was tending to the patient in the back of the Johnson County, Missouri, Ambulance District ambulance was hospitalized with lacerations to his head, said Chief Shane Lockard, with the ambulance service. As of Tuesday morning, the paramedic, who has been with the ambulance district for eight years, had been released from the hospital.

The other crew member on board, an emergency medical technician who was driving the ambulance, was released from the hospital Monday.

“She’s banged up and sore, but she’s doing OK,” Lockard said of the EMT, who has been with the ambulance district since October.

The ambulance service teams work 24 hour shifts starting at 8 a.m., so Sunday’s crew of two was about eight hours into the shift when the crash happened, Lockard said. As the EMT drove the vehicle northbound on U.S. 71, over Bannister Road, she lost control and the ambulance ran off the road and overturned twice, authorities said.

The patient in the back of the ambulance was declared dead at the scene, authorities said. The victim’s identity has not yet been made public.

The ambulance was traveling at 61 miles per hour at the time of the crash, according to a GPS system attached to the ambulance, Lockard said. The posted speed limit on that section of road is 65 miles per hour.

Lockard said he’s received numerous questions about the age and experience of the EMT, who is 21 and completed the Johnson County ambulance service’s EMT training academy prior to being hired.

EMT and paramedic school doesn’t have any training in the driving or operation of a vehicle, Lockard said, so the ambulance service has its own field training orientation program that new hires must complete. The program combines classroom time with time behind the wheel with an ambulance crew, including a field training officer.

The EMT was no longer driving with a field training officer at the time of the crash, Lockard said. That means she had already completed her 10, 24-hour shifts with the field training officer before getting a final stamp of approval from the district.

From there, new hires are usually assigned a more experienced paramedic as their partner, Lockard said.

He added that 21 is a common age for EMS; they see EMTs as young as 18 or 19, with the bulk of the workforce being in their 20s and 30s.

“Our agency is well above industry standard in our field training and orientation process. We’re not alone in the way we do ours, but we definitely I think provide more onboarding and direct training under a field training officer than the average EMS agency,” Lockard said.

At this point, without answers about what caused the accident, Lockard said he can’t make any comment on whether more training might’ve prevented this crash.

The EMT driver, as a part of standard procedure, remains on paid administrative leave until the investigation is completed.

The crash is under investigation by the Kansas City Police Department. Sgt. Deb Randol with the KCPD’s accident investigation unit said they are looking into whether wind gusts could have caused the driver to lose control on the overpass.

The district has around 45 full-time and 20 part-time employees who respond to about 10,000 calls a year, Lockard said. It hasn’t been determined if the ambulance is a total loss, but it is believed to be unrecoverable.

While the ambulance was insured, any amount received won’t cover replacement costs due to the ambulance’s age, Lockard said. The ambulance is a 2014 model and was one of 12 ambulances in the district’s fleet. Because of a backorder of ambulances, it could take two years to get a new ambulance manufactured.

The Star’s Robert A. Cronkleton contributed.

©2023 The Kansas City Star.
Visit kansascity.com.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

EARLIER: 

By Robert A. Cronkleton
The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A paramedic with the Johnson County, Missouri, Ambulance District remained in the hospital following a rollover crash that killed a patient and injured another crew member, the chief of the ambulance district said Monday.

“The captain paramedic that was attending the patient was admitted overnight and he had some lacerations to his head and other injuries,” said Chief Shane Lockard with the Johnson County Ambulance District. “We’re waiting this morning to find out what the next step is.”

The other crew member, an emergency medical technician who was driving, was released from the hospital. “She’s banged up and sore, but she’s doing OK,” Lockard said.

The identity of the patient was being withheld until family was notified, Lockard said. He said the hearts of the members of the ambulance district go out to the friends and family of the patient as they mourn the loss of their loved one.

The ambulance was heading northbound on U.S. 71 as it crosses over Bannister Road shortly after 4 p.m. The EMT driving the ambulance lost control and the ambulance ran off the road and overturned twice. The patient was pronounced dead at the scene. The EMT driver and the paramedic were taken to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.

The crash remains under investigation and no cause has yet been determined, said Sgt. Deb Randol with the Kansas City Police Department’s accident investigation unit. They are looking into whether wind gusts could have caused the driver to lose control on the overpass.

The ambulance district is cooperating with Kansas City police to investigate the cause of the wreck, Lockard said.

At the time of the crash, the ambulance crew were taking the patient as an emergency, but it did not warrant lights or sirens to be used, Lockard said. He declined to release further information about the patient for privacy reasons.

The ambulance district is making sure its crew members’ injuries are being taken care of, Lockard said. It will also provide follow up mental health services to help them deal with the traumatic event.

The EMT driver, as a part of standard procedure, will be placed on paid administrative leave while the nature and cause of the crash is investigated, he said.

The EMT driver has been with the ambulance district since October. The paramedic has been with the ambulance district since May 2015.

The ambulance district, which was established in 2002, provides emergency medical services to Johnson County, Missouri. It staffs five ambulances 24 hours a day out of five facilities — two in Warrensburg, and one each in Holden, Pittsville and Knob Noster. It also staffs a sixth ambulance 12 hours a day as needed.

The district has around 45 full-time and 20 part-time employees who respond to about 10,000 calls a year, Lockard said. It hasn’t been determined if the ambulance is a total loss, but it is believed to be unrecoverable.

The district is in the process of evaluating its ambulance needs. It does have a fleet of backup ambulances that can be pulled into service, but that is normally for a shorter period of time, he said.

While the ambulance was insured, any amount received won’t cover replacement costs due to the ambulance’s age, Lockard said. The ambulance is a 2014 model and was one of 12 ambulances in the district’s fleet. Because of a backorder of ambulances, it could take two years to get a new ambulance manufactured.

“There is a significant delay and shortage, particularly of Dodge and Ford chassis vehicles,” he said. 

©2023 The Kansas City Star.
Visit kansascity.com.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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