An emergency medical technician in upstate New York took emergency action to save a young boy’s life – and ended up without his job for his pains.
According to the Times Herald-Record in Ellenville, N.Y., 20-year-old Stephen Sawyer was suspended by the board of the Ellenville First Aid and Rescue Squad for getting behind the wheel of a rescue company ambulance and taking the boy to a hospital for treatment.
Fire company rules say ambulance drivers must be 21.
According to the Times Herald-Record, the incident occurred Dec. 11 when a woman called the rescue squad because her son was suffering a seizure. A paramedic who responded notified Sawyer, who was at the headquarters, that the boy needed an ambulance.
Sawyer was unable to find another rescue company with an ambulance available so he decided to take matters into his own hands. As an ambulance driver for another private rescue company, he felt qualified to break the rules to get make the five-mile drive to get the boy to the hospital.
The drive occurred without further problems and the boy was later transferred to a regional medical center, according to the Times Herald-Record.
But controversy followed. The newspaper reported that Sawyer was called by a captain of the company later that night to ask about the incident. At a meeting on Monday, Dec. 16, the rescue company’s board voted to suspend Sawyer for 60 days.
Sawyer quit in disgust.
“I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night or go to school knowing there’s a four-year-old suffering,” he said, according to the Times Herald-Record.
Board member John Gavaris, a captain with the Ellenville First Aid and Rescue Squad and a town councilman in a neighboring town, said the squad’s rules are similar to those of other rescue squads in the region – and aren’t dictated by insurance policies.
Requiring drivers to be 21 simply ensures that drivers are experienced enough to be trusted in life-saving situations, Gavaris said. Experience driving for other ambulance companies doesn’t necessarily count, Gavaris told the Times Herald-Record.
Gavaris also told the Daily Freeman that the situation was more complicated than Sawyer portrayed it, and said the 20-has been punished in the past for protocol violations. He declined to go into detail about Sawyer’s previous disciplinary problems, citing advice from an attorney, the Daily Freeman reported.
“This is the type of story that the public doesn’t need to be told,” Gavaris said, according to the Times Record-Herald. “There’s no value in this story other than shock value and gossip.”
Sawyer, not surprisingly, disagrees.
“As far as policy wise, the guys and girls on the board need to rethink their policies for the good of the community,” he told the Times Herald-Record. “People shouldn’t have to suffer over policy.”
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