MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) – A U.S. Navy veteran in Palmetto has spent the past eight months in a wheelchair, using a ramp to get in and out of home. 65-year-old Larry Smyth says his life has been turned upside down after EMS responders dropped him two times.
Smyth underwent spinal surgery in late January for a service-related injury. Less than two weeks later, he started dealing with complications which ended in him calling 911 for help.
“They arrived and I made them aware of the staples I had in my neck, that I had cervical spine surgery, and that I needed to be removed on a board to have my neck secured,” said Smyth. “They didn’t go along with what I had requested and as a result, they picked me up from behind at my shoulders and my feet and they dropped me twice,” he continued.
Ever since that moment, Smyth says his life has been a nightmare. He was left partially paralyzed, unable to walk, and needed to have a second surgery on his spine.
“I was totally changed from where I was two weeks prior,” said Smyth.
The 65-year-old says he has been in touch with Manatee County’s risk management attorney to find a way to help him recover and get back on his feet.
“I tried to communicate my concerns about what struggles I have gone through. My life has turned upside down. I’ve got bills, I’ve got expenses. I am just trying to get some accountability for what they had done to me. It is very important that they understand that I wouldn’t be in this spot if it wasn’t for what they did,” said Smyth.
The Navy veteran contacted 8 On Your Side for help in holding the county accountable. We contacted county officials Wednesday expressing his concerns and asking what can be done to resolve the issue.
“Because the patient you’re inquiring about involves litigation, we are unable to comment at this time,” said Manatee County Information Outreach Manager Nick Azzara.
“My issue is not just with myself with this. It is for all people who have spinal injuries of how important it is to handle them a proper way,” said Smyth. What happened is mind-boggling. I don’t want to ever see this happen to another person that has this type of serious injury or operation again,” he continued.
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