Before my wife and I moved to Charlotte, I spent nearly 7 years with the Fire Department in Lutz, FL. Our particular station, averaged 4-5 calls a day, though some days we were *much* busier. We had our share of people who called us, sometimes frequently, with made-up problems. People who were just lonely and had no one else to turn to, so they called 911. Or people who just wanted rides to the hospital. We knew some of the addresses, and cases, by heart. And when the call would come in, we would go, rain or shine, because that was our duty.
Recently in Pinellas County, which is across the bay from Tampa, two paramedics decided that they *didn’t* need to go on a call. A “frequent flyer” called 911 to report she had been sexually assaulted. These two medics, both veterans, decided on their own that they did not need to go to the call, and told their dispatch that maybe they should send the cops over.
Nobody caught the fact that they didn’t go until a recent review of run sheets. The reviewer noticed the medics didn’t put an arrival time down on their form, and found out that was because they didn’t go. After finding out the cause, the two were fired on the spot.
A recent editorial in the St. Pete Times hits on pretty much how I feel. When you call 911, and you report that you are injured, you expect someone to come to your house. Granted, if the dispatcher determines your call to not be a priority call (“I have a bug in my ear!”), it may take a while (up to an hour by the dispatching standards we worked under) – but that wasn’t the case here. Their dispatchers determined that the lady who called required Paramedic level medical assistance, and they turned it down.
We’ve all done stupid things in our careers. Maybe we skipped the oxygen bottle check during morning routine and so once on scene we had to get the spare out of the truck. Or maybe we read the map wrong on the way to the person’s house. Or maybe we thought to ourselves, “Here we go again, I hate going to so-and-sos house” before we headed off. But to not go, to not even show up to see what is going on is so amazingly stupid that no one deserves to be fired and stripped of their licenses more than these two.