Thoughts On The Detroit EMS Incident

If you’ve been around any of the EMS social media over the past two days, you’ve heard a story about a Detroit EMT who refused to respond to a baby in cardiac arrest.

Were her acts disgusting?  Absolutely.  Are they immoral?  You bet.  Do they violate every ethical norm that EMS provider subscribe to?  Damn straight.

Should she lose her job?  Already happened.

Should she lose her EMS certification?  I’d argue that she should.

Should she be sued and held liable in civil court?  I’d love to take the case.

But of course, everyone in the social media world wants more than that.  They want her charged with a crime.

As the resident curmudgeon attorney in these parts, let me dump some cold water on that. After that, I’ll dump some more cold water on that.  First, tell me the crime to charge her with.  Second, can you tell me the elements of the crime?  Why?  Because you’re going to have to prove each and every one of them beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of twelve people who aren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.

When actions are so repugnant that we all turn our heads in disgust, our visceral reaction is to say that some sort of crime must have been committed.  The good news, and yes, it’s truly good news, is that our country and our legal system make it incredibly hard to charge, prove, and convict someone of a crime.  Rightfully, we’ve created an incredibly high standard of proof for criminal cases — because we are taking away someone’s freedoms.

Our individual rights should never be subject to the whims of a majority, much less a vocal minority.  As an American, I believe in our freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.  As an attorney, I’ve sworn to uphold these freedoms.  As an EMS provider, I wish that more of my colleagues appreciated these principles.

Comments

  1. Sarah Kiefer says:

    Not smart enough to get out of jury duty = priceless

  2. Erich Neumann says:

    I think you’re right on the money. Perfect example: Intoxication Assault. It’s not enough to prove the guy was (1) driving, was (2) drunk out of his gourd, and (3) hit somebody and hurt them real bad. Oh, no, you have to prove that he hit somebody and hurt them real bad BECAUSE he was drunk out of his gourd. And while you’d think that was a slam dunk, I can give you a laundry list of cases where a jury was swayed by a defense attorney to find just enough “reasonable” doubt that even an admitted drunk driver who put people in the hospital gets off with a misdemeanor DWI conviction or even walks scot-free instead of a felony Intox Assault. So now you have to convince a jury that a premature baby who had extensive documented medical problems, who was successfully resuscitated despite the refusal of this idiot to actually help her, and whose death a day later was NOT ruled a homicide would still be alive EXCEPT for the actions of that EMT? There is absolutely no way to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.

  3. Greg Taylor says:

    Well reasoned post!! The civil venue is much more appropriate for this particular case.

  4. Would gross negligence not be sufficient as a legal precedent?

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