A Hillsborough County Fire Rescue worker has been fired and three others have been suspended without pay following a review of their response to an Independence Day emergency after which a woman died.
Investigators said the first responders failed to properly assess Crystle Galloway, 30, who had given birth via C-section a few days prior and hadn't been feeling well since.
"I'm hurt," Galloway's mother, Nicole Black, said. "I miss my child."
Instead of being taken to the hospital by ambulance, Black drove Galloway, who later died.
Black said she's wary of emergency responders in Hillsborough County after what happened to her daughter.
"I will never call 911 under any circumstances," she said after hearing the fire medics' punishment. "I will die first or die trying to get to the hospital."
The county's own investigation found the fire medics didn't obtain Galloway's vital signs to determine if she needed treatment.
"On the morning of July 4, Crystle Galloway received neither complete care nor the best care from the four fire medics who responded," Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said.
Merrill said besides not following protocol and not taking vitals, a lack of remorse and, in some cases, arrogance weighed in on the decision on how to discipline the emergency responders.
A two-month review of the situation concluded the Fire Rescue personnel failed to do their jobs and violated standard operating procedures.
"Public safety remains the number one priority of Hillsborough County and Hillsborough County Fire Rescue," Hillsborough County wrote in a statement. "Hillsborough County is committed to ensuring all its citizens receive the National Standard of Care that is at the core of paramedic training and patient care as well as defined in Hillsborough County Fire Rescue’s Standard Operating Procedures."
Lt. John "Mike" Morris was fired. Acting Lt. Cortney Barton was suspended for 30 days without pay and removed from the ability to serve in an acting lieutenant capacity for one year after which supervisory retraining will be required. Fire Medic Justin Sweeney was demoted to Firefighter/EMT and suspended for 30 days without pay. Fire Medic Andrew J. Martin was suspended for 30 days without pay.
Merrill said Morris’ lack of remorse and saying that he would do the same thing over again was “horrific.”
Merrill also recalled Morris saying that he didn’t need to take vitals because he could tell if somebody was okay by “just looking at them.”
The other fire medics on scene also did not show remorse, according to Merrill, who said it was clear they had been coached.
Union representative Travis Horn is standing by the fire medics. Horn said Galloway and Black refused treatment, so their hands were tied.
"They did everything they could," he said. "I can't wrestle you to the ground and make you let me treat you."
All four employees learned of their punishments on Wednesday. They will have the opportunity to appeal. Black has not ruled out a lawsuit against the county.
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