Florida Paramedics Suspended After Pronouncing Living Patient Dead

Two Paramedics with Clearwater Fire and Rescue were placed on administrative duty after they responded to a cardiac arrest call. After a short time on the scene, they pronounced the patient deceased; only he wasn’t.

On Wednesday morning, February 15th, at approximately 10:00 a.m., paramedics from Clearwater fire station 47 were dispatched to a call at a residence in unincorporated Pinellas County about a 65-year-old male patient in cardiac arrest.

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Upon arrival, the paramedics checked the patient and pronounced the man dead a short while later, Clearwater Fire and Rescue said in a statement. They left the area once deputies from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrived to investigate, according to the television station WTSP.

According to the news release, a Pinellas County deputy “noticed the patient was breathing and requested medical crews to return to the scene.”

This time, Largo Fire Rescue crews were called and reached the scene, WFLA reported. According to Clearwater Fire and Rescue, about 28 minutes elapsed between the initial call and the Largo medics’ arrival.

The man was taken to the hospital and was still recovering, according to WFLA.

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The two paramedics from Clearwater Fire and Rescue were placed on administrative duty after Wednesday’s incident.

“Upon notification of this incident, we immediately removed both fire medics from their normal duties and discontinued their abilities to provide patient care, in conjunction with the county’s medical director,” Clearwater Fire Chief Scott Ehlers said in a statement.

The two medics who initially responded to the call have been placed on administrative duty and are clinically suspended by the Pinellas County EMS Medical Director’s Office. The medical director’s office and Clearwater Fire and Rescue are investigating the incident.

“On behalf of the city, I apologize for the actions and the inactions of our crew during this incident. We have strict policies and procedures in place that were not followed, according to our preliminary review. These two did not perform to the standard of care that our citizens expect and deserve. We will address this incident swiftly.”

Jennifer Poirrier, Clearwater’s interim city manager, told WTSP that the actions of the two paramedics were “not up to the city’s standard.”

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“Our first responders proudly serve our community each and every day, and they are expected to help people when they need it the most,” Poirrier told the television station. “When this does not occur at the level at which we expect, it is incumbent upon us to determine exactly what happened, why it happened, and then ensure it will never happen again.”

Often confused with heart attacks, cardiac arrest is an electrical problem, like an irregular heartbeat, and a heart attack is a circulation problem, like a blocked artery, according to the American Heart Association. Seconds after a cardiac arrest, a person will become unresponsive and cannot breathe or is only gasping.

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