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2 penalized in accident tiff

Lehi Ambulance commander gets a 90-day suspension

SHARE 2 penalized in accident tiff

A Lehi Ambulance commander has been suspended for 90 days, and a Salt Lake County paramedic has received a letter of reprimand for a disagreement between emergency medical crews responding to an accident scene in May.

The reprimand and suspension resulted from a complaint filed by Lehi Ambulance, which charged Salt Lake County Paramedics crossed jurisdictional boundaries and had no right to provide care to the victims of a fatal car crash south of Point of the Mountain.

A report released Friday morning by the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services said the Lehi incident commander "exercised unsound patient care judgments, was guilty of failure to be aware of and follow local EMS protocols and acted in an unprofessional manner." In addition to the 90-day suspension, the incident commander was placed on six months probation, during which time he cannot work as a commander and must receive additional training.

The report stated the Salt Lake County paramedic also acted in an "unprofessional manner" by threatening the incident commander but cleared the county of any wrongdoing in responding to the accident scene outside its jurisdiction.

While Salt Lake County Fire Capt. Bill Brass felt the ruling was a fair one, he said the situation was still "tragic."

Mark Loveridge, captain of Lehi Emergency Medical Services, declined to comment on the specifics of the ruling but did say he felt the dispute could have been avoided with better communication.

"We do have a communication problem between us and our dispatch and VECC and Salt Lake County," Loveridge said. "There was a breakdown in the communication here, as is clearly evidenced by the bureau's report."

The report stated that Salt Lake County paramedics "asked for confirmation of Lehi's arrival on scene," and "when they received no confirmation chose to continue."

As part of its report, the bureau ordered Salt Lake County and Lehi to work out a mutual aid agreement, something both agencies say they are willing to pursue.

"We just want to be able to work together for the benefit of the patient," Brass said. "That is done quite frequently throughout the state."

In its complaint, Lehi said Salt Lake County paramedics started a shouting match with pushing and shoving at the scene. The report, however, ruled there was a shouting match but "no evidence supporting the occurrence of any physical contact."

The argument started when the Salt Lake County paramedic wanted one of the accident victims taken by helicopter to a Salt Lake hospital. The incident commander, who had less medical training, argued the patient should be taken by ambulance to a Utah County hospital.

E-MAIL: djensen@desnews.com