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Lawsuit claims Mo. ambulance service negligent in trusting EMT with limited driving experience

Children of the patient killed in the April crash say the EMT failed to maintain control of the ambulance


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By Andrea Klick, Anna Spoerre
The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The children of a man killed when an ambulance crashed in Kansas City last month filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against the Johnson County, Missouri, operators of the emergency vehicle.

Raymond Miller, 61, died in the back of the ambulance when the driver lost control while traveling north on U.S. 71 Highway near Bannister Road on April 30, according to the Kansas City Police Department. The ambulance was operated by the Johnson County, Missouri, Ambulance District, based about 65 miles east of Kansas City.

The ambulance was on its way to Research Medical Center in Kansas City when it veered off the roadway to the left, overturned twice and stopped in the grassy median, according to the lawsuit.

Miller, the patient being transported, was pronounced dead at the scene. A captain paramedic, who was tending to Miller in the back of the vehicle, and an EMT who was driving the ambulance were injured.

[PREVIOUSLY: 2 Mo. providers hurt in fatal rollover ambulance crash released from hospital]

Miller’s children are suing Johnson County, the ambulance district and Emma Gill, the driver of the ambulance, claiming Gill failed to maintain control of the ambulance and keep a careful lookout, leading to its overturning, the family’s attorneys wrote in a statement.

They also allege the ambulance district was negligent in trusting someone who they say had limited experience, training and knowledge to operate the vehicle. The ambulance district, the plaintiffs allege, failed to adequately train, instruct and supervise Gill to operate the ambulance safely.

“The family is hopeful that this lawsuit will provide answers about the details of the crash,” the attorneys said, “so that changes can be made to prevent this type of accident from happening to other families in the future.”

When reached Thursday, Chief Shane Lockard of the Johnson County, Missouri, ambulance service said he couldn’t comment on the specific allegations in the lawsuit, as he had not yet seen it.

“The nature and details of the accident are under ongoing investigation,” he said in a written statement. “As of the time of this press release our agency has not been served or received notification of any lawsuit.”

Lockard previously told The Star that Gill was a 21-year-old who completed the Johnson County ambulance service’s EMT training before she was hired.

Because EMT and paramedic school don’t offer driving training, the service has a field training orientation program that new hires must complete, which includes classroom hours and time behind the wheel with a field training officer, Lockard said.

The EMT was no longer driving with a field training officer, meaning she completed 10 shifts of 24 hours before getting the district’s final approval to operate the ambulance.

After that, Lockard said, EMTs are usually assigned an experienced paramedic to work with. The captain paramedic on the EMT’s shift had worked with the ambulance district for eight years.

He also added that many EMTs are often in their 20s and 30s, and some are as young as 18 and 19.

“Our agency is well above industry standard in our field training and orientation process,” Lockard said.

“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.”

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