CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — Two Clearwater Fire & Rescue paramedics were fired after an internal investigation revealed they mistakenly pronounced a man dead seconds after arriving at his aid.
“First and foremost, I would like to apologize to the family for the lack of concern that these two medics displayed on that call,” Clearwater Fire & Rescue Department Chief Scott Ehlers said Friday. “I am truly sorry.”
Ehlers said the two medics were called to a home in an unincorporated portion of Pinellas County on the morning of Feb. 15 for a reported cardiac arrest.
At 10:01 a.m. and 49 seconds, the medics reported to dispatch they had arrived at the patient. Nine seconds later, they reported “Signal 7,” which is a confirmed death.
“Within that short period of time, they stated they assessed the patient and determined he was deceased,” Ehlers said. “They canceled all responding units and notified law enforcement.”
During the investigation, both medics stated they were following Pinellas County protocol.
“The fact that the patient had an agonal respiration should have indicated to the two medics that they should have reassessed their initial findings,” Ehlers added. “This is where they failed and showed no concern for family pleas or a second consideration for the patient.”
About 30 minutes later, a separate paramedic crew was called back to the home after a Pinellas County deputy discovered the man was still breathing.
The investigation noted the incident was “not a training issue” as the two had years of service as a medic and were up to date on all medical protocols and training.
“The protocols and policy were not followed,” Ehlers said. “This was a lack of performance from these individuals that conflicts with our mission to proudly serve our community and the expectations of our citizens. We are and will continue to do better.”
The paramedics did not tell authorities why they didn’t follow protocols.
“The job of a firefighter is to help people. That’s the bottom line,” Ehlers said. “They didn’t help anybody.”