Pittsburgh Paramedic Speaks Out About Snow Death

Dimon pleaded with her boss to let her keep her job.


 
 

JEREMY BOREN, Pittsburgh Tribune Review | | Wednesday, February 16, 2011


A Pittsburgh paramedic fired for failing to help a dying Hazelwood man during last February's crippling snowstorm pleaded with her boss to let her keep her job and said she didn't realize the man's medical condition was so grave, according to documents released Tuesday.

City officials plan to appeal an arbitrator's ruling that they must reinstate Josie Dimon and give her back pay dating to her March 31 firing.

Dimon was sacked when public safety officials concluded Curtis Mitchell died of natural causes after waiting 30 hours for an ambulance.

Dimon was the acting crew chief of Medic 8, an ambulance unit dispatched to Mitchell's home. She wrote that she believed Mitchell was walking to her ambulance after she reported that driving on the snow-covered Elizabeth Avenue Bridge was too dangerous.

"But he never came," she wrote in a letter to her boss, EMS Chief Robert McCaughan. "I called the supervisor to find out what we should do. I followed his orders."

Dimon has declined interview requests, but the eight-page arbitrator's ruling includes the letter and offers the first glimpse of her reaction to Mitchell's death.

"My deepest sympathies go out to the Mitchell family," she wrote. "In my eleven years with the city as a paramedic, the double shift I worked on February 5 and 6 was the worst night I have ever worked, under the most treacherous conditions."

A lawyer for the Mitchell family on Monday criticized the arbitrator's decision, decrying the "basic inhumanity that this paramedic exhibited."

Neither McCaughan nor city Public Safety Director Michael Huss interviewed Dimon as part of the city's investigation, according to the arbitrator's report, which criticized the city's inquiry: "It is ever so puzzling that (Dimon) was not interviewed and yet was terminated despite admittedly being an 'outstanding paramedic.' "

The report said Dimon had a clean personnel record and received an award for her job performance from City Council.

Huss said Monday that Dimon's conduct warranted the firing. She was the only paramedic fired in the incident; two others were suspended without pay.

Tony Weinmann, president of the Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics Local No. 1, said Dimon was singled out because of a comment she made during a cell phone call to a colleague at the Allegheny County 911 center.

According to the arbitrator's report, Dimon said, "He ain't (expletive) coming down, and I ain't waiting all day for him. I mean, what the (expletive)? This ain't no cab service."



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