CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — Two Clearwater Fire and Rescue paramedics will not be allowed to treat patients for a while after a man they pronounced dead was found to be breathing.
On Wednesday morning, the fire department sent two medics from Station 47 to a home in an unincorporated portion of Pinellas County for a reported cardiac arrest.
Medics pronounced the 65-year-old patient dead “shortly after their arrival,” according to a statement from Clearwater Fire and Rescue. They left the area once the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrived to investigate the apparent death.
Largo Fire Rescue crews were called to the home after a deputy discovered the man was still breathing. About 28 minutes elapsed between the initial call and Largo medics’ arrival, Clearwater Fire and Rescue said.
The man was taken to the hospital, where he was still recovering from cardiac arrest on Saturday. Often confused with heart attacks, cardiac arrest is an electrical problem, like an irregular heartbeat, and a heart attack is a circulation problem, like a blocked artery, according to the American Heart Association.
“Upon notification of this incident, we immediately removed both fire medics from their normal duties and discontinued their abilities to provide patient care, in conjunction with the county’s medical director,” Clearwater Fire Chief Scott Ehlers said in a statement to News Channel 8.
The two medics who initially responded to the call were placed on administrative duty and were clinically suspended by the Pinellas County EMS Medical Director’s Office. Both the medical director’s office and Clearwater Fire and Rescue are looking into the incident.
“On behalf of the city, I apologize for the actions and the inactions of our crew during this incident,” Chief Ehlers said. “We have strict policies and procedures in place that were not followed, according to our preliminary review. These two did not perform to the standard of care that our citizens expect and deserve.”
Interim Clearwater City Manager Jennifer Poirrier concurred with Chief Ehlers, writing in a statement to News Channel 8, “when this does not occur at the level at which we expect, it is incumbent upon us to determine exactly what happened, why it happened, and then ensure it will never happen again.”