Detroit EMT’s Failure to Respond Showed Depraved Indifference

In what her supervisors have called an act of “depraved indifference”, a Detroit Fire Department EMT has been terminated for refusing to respond into the scene of an infant in cardiac arrest . The incident occurred May 30, 2015 and the child later died.

EMT Ann Marie Thomas was reportedly less than a mile from the scene when the call came in, but took six minutes to drive to the scene. She then parked her unit on a street corner away from the residence while waiting for other units to arrive.

According to an internal investigation, Thomas’s excuse for delaying was not about a concern for her safety, but rather was about not wanting to have to do CPR on an infant for an extended period of time without additional resources. From the report:

  • EMT Thomas refused to respond to a call for service for a baby not breathing for no reason other than not wanting to perform CPR for what she perceived to be an extended period of time as stated to 1105.
  • At no point, in any of her statements to dispatch, 1105 or her written account, did she ever project a concern for her safety nor did she ask for an eta for police more than once. In all of her subsequent statements to dispatch over ES channel 4 she consistently asked for the eta of the transporting unit.
  • EMT Thomas even went as far as reminding 1105 that the transporting unit still had a 12 minute eta. after being ordered to make the scene on at least 4 separate occasions.
  • There was no information provided in the initial call nor any subsequent updates to support the actions of EMT Thomas.
  • Even during her interview, when asked was she scared, she replied she was not scared but concerned.
  • EMT Thomas did exhibit a willful and wanton disregard for her duties as a member of this department by refusing to make a scene for a patient/baby not breathing. The fundamental duty for members assigned to the EMS Division is to respond appropriately and treat the sick and injured. Her refusal to do so, based on her opinion of an extended CPR requirement, is in clear contrast to her duties and shows a depraved indifference to this family.

Here is a copy of the report:Thomas Report

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About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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