Ala. EMS agency investigating after theft of ambulance by armed patient
Mobile County EMS Executive Director Mark Turner said a request for the sheriff's department was canceled after the patient initially calmed down
By Laura French
MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. — An Alabama EMS agency is conducting an investigation after a patient with a gun stole an ambulance before dying by suicide while officers pursued him.
Mobile County EMS Executive Director Mark Turner spoke with WKRG after the incident Thursday, saying that the call was initially dispatched as a "sick call" regarding a man at a restaurant experiencing potential heart problems. The agency received the call at 4:41 a.m. and paramedics arrived at the restaurant at 4:55 a.m.
The crew was on the scene with the patient for 20 minutes, and a request for assistance was made to the Mobile County Sheriff's Department after the patient became agitated. The request was later canceled after the patient calmed down, Turner said.
The crew arrived with the patient at Providence Hospital in Mobile at 5:39 a.m. and Turner said everything seemed normal. While in the ambulance bay, the medics began to unload the stretcher as they usually would, but about three minutes after their arrival they turned around to see that the patient had a gun.
The patient demanded that the crew give up the ambulance, then got in the driver's seat and drove off, leading Mobile police on a low-speed pursuit, according to previous reports.
Turner praised the medics for removing themselves from the situation and alerting the staff at the ER so a lockdown could be initiated. No one other than the suspect was injured in the incident, Mobile Police Capt. Rodney Greeley said during a press conference shortly after the pursuit ended.
After spike strips were deployed to deflate the rig's tires, and the rig caught fire due to heat building up underneath it, the patient died from an apparent self-inflicted wound, police said.
Turner said the medics are not trained to search patients for weapons and that crewmembers will request assistance from law enforcement when a call becomes dangerous. Turner said police were not dispatched on the call based on initial information regarding a possible medical emergency.
The agency is planning to discuss the incident with the medics involve and will continue to investigate what led to the dangerous situation.