Investigation Launched into California Medics’ Refusal to Enter Medical Facility

The Rialto Fire Department is investigating allegations that two of its medics refused to enter a medical facility to treat and transport a man in cardiac arrest. The incident occurred on November 17, 2021, and some of it was captured on the body-cam of a local police officer, Ralph Ballew.

The medics have reportedly been placed on administrative leave while the matter is investigated. Various news outlets are reporting that the medics claimed a law prevented them from entering the post-acute care facility. Officer Ballew entered the facility, observed staff frantically performing CPR, and was questioned about where the firefighters were. Seeing that the firefighters would not enter, Officer Ballew reportedly pushed the patient’s bed to the exit where care was provided.

The Sun quoted from Officer Ballew’s report:

  • “Despite being in their line of sight… fire personnel still insisted on (the patient) being brought to them outside before they began life saving efforts and made no effort to assist me in getting (the patient) outside.”

Here are portions of the Officer Ballew’s body-cam footage (the first 30 seconds are muted):

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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