Fla. paramedic fired, 3 suspended over medical call

A 10-week investigation into the actions of four paramedics who responded to a medical call involving a stroke patient who later died

By EMS1 Staff

TAMPA, Fla. — One paramedic was fired and three others were suspended without pay after a lengthy investigation into their treatment of a stroke patient who later died.

A 10-week investigation found that four Hillsborough County Fire Rescue paramedics failed to transport or check the vitals of Crystle Galloway, who was showing stroke symptoms days after undergoing a Caesarian section, Tampa Bay Times reported.

The paramedics helped Galloway into the car of her mother, Nicole Black, who took her to a hospital. Doctors then found bleeding in her brain and she was airlifted to another hospital, where she died five days later.

All four paramedics said in written statements that Sheriff’s Deputies Jacob Lamb and Michael Black spoke with Black about driving her daughter to the hospital before the paramedics arrived at her apartment.

The deputies were cleared of any wrongdoing in a separate investigation.

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merril said Lt. John Morris, a six-year veteran of the department, was fired as a result of the incident. Acting Lt. Cortney Barton was given a 30-day suspension without pay and will not be able to serve as an acting lieutenant for one year. Then, she will have to retrain before taking a supervisory position.

Fire medic Justin Sweeney was demoted to firefighter-EMT and was also suspended, along with fire medic Andrew Martin.

"To the family, I do sincerely apologize and give my heartfelt apologies for our lack of care and service," Merrill said. "I hope, and I had hoped, that these four fire medics would have been more forthcoming and owned this. At some point I think it would be good for them to apologize themselves instead of me.''

Merrill said it was Morris’ lack of remorse that caused his termination.

"Other than Martin, none of the others had a shred of remorse, showed a shred of regret, had a second thought about their actions," Merrill said. "Morris in particular, though, was extremely arrogant. In fact, he said he would do everything again in the same way and that he can tell just by looking at a patient what they need. I think that's horrendous and so that weighed heavily in my decision to terminate him."

The firefighters union maintains that the paramedics were right in their actions.

"They're out there protecting us and running back-to-back calls understaffed and mismanaged, and we're going to throw them under the bus because this young woman's mom claims they did not want to transport her," IAFF Local 2294 spokesperson Travis Horn said.

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