When it comes to medical emergencies, seconds can mean the very real difference between life and death. Unfortunately, one EMT’s decision to wait created a heartbreaking loss of life.
Ann Marie Thomas, a Detroit EMT paramedic has been fired after refusing to help a premature baby with a dire medical emergency need who later died.
45-year-old Thomas is now charged with misdemeanor willful neglect of duty, punishable by up to a year in jail, for failing to respond to an emergency call at about 5:45 p.m. May 30 on the 19900 block of Glastonbury in Detroit.
The 911 dispatcher told Thomas an 8-month-old baby, Aniyah Wright Trussel, was inside and had stopped breathing.
Thomas was less than a mile away from the scene on the city’s west side, but never showed up because she was worried the baby’s family would get agitated at responding emergency medical technicians, WDIV-TV reported.
“I’m not about to be on no scene 10 minutes doing CPR, you know how these families get,” she told her boss, according to a report obtained by the news station.
Thomas was just a two-minute drive from the scene after responding to a nearby home. But it took her about six minutes to get close to the baby and she then refused to go in until another crew arrived on the scene, some 12 minutes later.
“When she arrived, instead of rushing to help save the infant’s life, Thomas parked her emergency vehicle around the corner from the house,” reads a separate civil lawsuit filed by the estate of the child who died.
An EMS supervisor immediately reprimanded Thomas on the radio for her neglect of duty.
Nevertheless, Thomas and her partner refused to budge. Instead, the EMT workers insisted on waiting for another crew to arrive.
The little girl was eventually taken to Sinai-Grace Hospital by a different ambulance but died the next morning.
The baby, who was born premature, relied on an oxygen machine.
Reacting to her child’s death, the child’s mother said: ‘My daughter would have been here if she just came around that corner and responded to my cry for help.’
An investigation determined that Thomas and her partner were in an SUV which had all of the equipment that an ambulance has. It was designed to help medics get to patients much faster than normal.
Stated a report: ‘The actions of EMT Thomas directly contributed to an approximately 19 minute response time from time of call to Romeo 33 making the scene for a baby not breathing.’
Responding to the firing, Detroit fire commissioner Edsel Jenkins said: “Today, [Wednesday] we conducted an appeals hearing, which Ms. Thomas requested.”
“After reviewing all of the facts of this incident, I have determined that the appropriate course of action is to terminate Ms. Thomas’ employment with the Detroit Fire Department effective immediately.”
Thomas will not face any criminal charges.