Emergency medical technicians throughout Illinois help many people during life-threatening situations. Most of the time, EMTs provide vital medical attention to those injured or in extreme distress until the victims can obtain more comprehensive treatment at a hospital, for instance. However, sometimes, the unthinkable happens during an initial emergency call, and the victim dies. When this happens, EMTs can face serious legal consequences if the evidence suggests they somehow contributed to the death. In an unprecedented case, two EMTs in Springfield are facing formal first-degree murder charges and civil suits for their alleged role in a patient’s death.
The incident and aftermath
On Dec. 18, 2022, authorities received a call about a man in medical distress at a private residence. Upon arrival, EMTs and law enforcement found the man lying on a bed in the bedroom. He was lethargic, sweating profusely, moaning and short of breath. The 25-year-old appeared disoriented, and a woman at the home claimed he was suffering from alcohol withdrawal.
According to reports, police officers ultimately helped the man outside to a stretcher, and one EMT not only did not help with the effort but apparently made disparaging comments toward the patient during the process. The other EMT who was already outside essentially slammed the man onto the stretcher on his belly and strapped him down. The man was transported to a nearby hospital, but he passed away a short time later. The coroner ruled the death as compressional and positional asphyxia that occurred because the man had been strapped face down on the stretcher.
Wrongful death and murder
Prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges against both EMTs on Jan. 10, 2023, and the two are being held on $1 million bonds. Surviving family members of the deceased man have also filed wrongful death lawsuits against the EMTs and their employer, LifeStar Ambulance Service. As terrible as this tragedy is, it underscores the importance of medical professionals doing their jobs properly, and anyone in Illinois who suffered harm or lost a loved one as the result of an EMT or other health care provider’s negligence may pursue civil action against those responsible.