An EMT has been suspended – for doing what he is trained to do. The employee works for Assist Ambulance, based out of Brooklyn, but finds himself suspended – without pay – because he made the decision to try to assist a 7-year-old girl.
According to USA Today on Oct. 29, EMT Qwasie Reid and his partner were transporting a nursing home patient, local news channel NY1 reported, when a panicking teacher came and flagged down the ambulance at a red light to tell them a girl inside Public School 250 in Williamsburg was choking on her lunch.
“Reid told the station he believed a choking girl took priority over the transport, and, against his partner’s urging, administered aid to the 7-year-old, who he said had already turned blue. No one at the school was assisting the girl, he said,” reports USA Today.
Reid, who has been driving an ambulance for four years, said the company told him his actions were against policy. Not that his patient already in the truck took priority, but that he broke protocol by making an unauthorized stop to render assistance without being called.
“She was blue in the face and lips. No response. Unconscious and unresponsive,” the suspended EMT said, adding that when he rushed into the school against his partner’s urgings, staffers were just standing around the child. The fire department showed up approximately four minutes after Reid began administering CPR.
“I don’t regret it,” Reid said of his actions. “I’d do it again. If I know there’s a child choking, I’m going to do my best to help her. I made a vow to save a life. If I had to jump out of the ambulance again, I’d do anything. I pray to God she feels better.”
Unfortunately, despite Reid’s efforts, 7-year-old Noelia Echavarria is on life support at NYU Langone Medical Center and has been declared brain-dead. According to the NY Daily News, the family blames the school, saying they never performed the Heimlich maneuver on her, and never started CPR.
School Principal RoseAnn LaCioppa sent a letter home to parents, stating in part: “Speaking on behalf of the teachers and staff of P.S. 250, I want to reassure you that our school personnel has been trained in response to emergencies and we will always follow all protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of all our students.”
The school district also released a statement, saying: “We believe the principal and faculty responded swiftly to the emergency, notifying 911 and the student’s family immediately.”
Reid said the ambulance company is just out to make a buck and that in a life or death situation, that’s the last thing on his mind.
“As an EMT, I don’t care about your money,” he said. “There was a child choking. I’m worried about them firing me, but I did a good deed. I just feel like I’m being penalized for something and I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“This is my situation,” he continued. “It sucks. Most people get rewarded and I’m being penalized.”
Your thoughts below: Do you think this suspended EMT made the right call?