The fire chief in Edgewater, Florida has gotten himself in hot water with the county EMS coordinator for ordering a patient to be transported to the hospital in a fire department vehicle rather than waiting for a private ambulance to arrive from South Daytona.
Dr. Peter Springer, the medical director for Volusia Emergency Medical Services, has suspended the right of Fire Chief Stephen Cousins to practice as a paramedic.
The chief claims his actions were motivated by an incident that occurred on January 8, 2010 when a 32-year-old woman with asthma died waiting for a delayed EVAC ambulance to arrive. In that case the Edgewater Fire Department arrived on scene within 5 minutes of the 911 call, and repeatedly asked for permission from EVAC to transport Joell Cianfrocca, but were denied. The original EVAC ambulance diverted to another run, and a backup arrived 32 minutes later.
Not surprisingly, Cianfrocca’s family filed suit against EVAC. The complaint includes the following allegation: “EVAC’s conduct in failing to timely transport, or to arrange for a timely transport of Joell when her life depended on it, was outrageous and beyond all possible bounds of decency.”
EVAC is the same provider that settled a case for $5 million last year over the handling of the birth of a premature infant.
Local officials in Edgewater are standing firmly behind their fire chief. Mayor Mike Thomas was quoted as saying “I am tired of this… We have got lives on the line.”