A shocking new video shows the moments EMS paramedics in Southern California refused to enter a healthcare facility to help a man who was dying of cardiac arrest because of “some Covid-19 law.”
Instead of doing their jobs, the paramedics stood outside the building and waited for the dying man to be wheeled outside to them when they responded to a 911 call last month.
Body camera footage that was obtained by Fox11 LA shows a Rialto Police Officer arriving at the Rialto Post Acute Care facility after staff had called 911 to report a man who was not breathing. As the officer arrives, two EMS paramedics are standing outside the open door and refusing to enter the building despite having masks on.
After being told by the paramedics that they would not be going inside and the patient would have to be brought to them, the officer heads inside after hearing an unknown employee call out for help.
According to Fox News:
“After a few moments, an unknown employee of the location yelled out to fire personnel ‘Please come help, he’s having cardiac arrest,’ the officer wrote.
‘Fire personnel responded by insisting the patient had to be brought outside the facility before they could provide any sort of treatment… due to an unspecified COVID-19 law.’
By the time the patient, 56-year-old Joseph Angulo, had finally been wheeled outside, loaded into the ambulance, and taken to the hospital – it was too late.
About 30 minutes after he was loaded into the ambulance, Angulo was pronounced dead.
Every second counts in these situations. The inaction by these paramedics is inexcusable.
Rialto Mayor Pro Tem Ed Scott called the video “difficult to watch” and said that he was made aware of the situation after he received a complaint from a staff member at the facility. He has since reported the incident to the City Attorney, who has officially opened an investigation and placed the paramedics who were involved on administrative leave pending the review.
Those involved should face some serious punishment for their inaction. According to the San Bernardino County Emergency Medical Services Authority, California EMS responders are prohibited from refusing service once they have accepted a call unless they are told not to by law enforcement or there is a direct safety threat.
A representative for the state’s EMSA explained to Fox11 LA:
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“Upon acceptance of a call assignment, California paramedics cannot refuse service (i.e., assessment, treatment, or transport) unless directed by law enforcement or if the scene is unsafe. Local protocols may change instructions for the conditions to assess, treat, and/or transport.”
What’s most concerning is that the supposed Covid-19 law that the paramedics cited in order to remain outside the building is actually from an April 2020 memo from the San Bernardino County Fire Chief’s Association which did not support their inaction at all.
The memo states that EMS personnel should request that long-term-care facilities transfer the patient to the door before performing any life-saving treatment. In addition to clearly stating that moving the patient should be a request, the memo also directs at least one member of the responding paramedics to go inside and “interact” with the patient if they cannot be transferred to an exit.
From the April 2020 memo:
“Personnel responding to long-term care facilities … Should consider the following to minimize any potential risk for exposure:
All dispatch centers will be requesting the facilities to move patients to the door or outside the location…
…If [the] patient cannot be transferred to exit for or outside prior to arrival, one member of Fire/EMS personnel should initially interact with the patient.”
In addition to the city attorney’s official investigation, Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson made promises to conduct an independent investigation into the incident.