Exclusives
FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+RSS Feed
Fire EMSEMS TodayEMS Insider

Family In Pittsburgh "Snow Death" File Lawsuit

PITTSBURGH - The children of a man who died after waiting 30 hours for help during a snowstorm despite repeated calls to 911 are suing.

The lawsuit claims the city, the county dispatch center and the various paramedics and emergency medical services brass are responsible for the February death of 50-year-old Curtis Mitchell.

Mitchell died after ambulance crews didn't reach him despite calling 911 repeatedly over 30 hours as a storm dumped nearly two feet of snow on the city.

One paramedic was fired, and three others were suspended over Mitchell's death. The lawsuit claims he endured agonizing stomach pain while waiting for help.

Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl Williams later determined Mitchell died of natural causes _ heart disease complicated by a fatty liver - though toxicology tests confirmed that a poor blood supply caused Mitchell's intestines to swell and likely led to the discomfort he suffered.

Mitchell's family contends he might have lived had he gotten help sooner in the 51-page lawsuit obtained by The Associated Press. It was being filed Thursday by Mitchell's children, Theresa Thornton and Jeremiah C. Mitchell in Allegheny County.

The lawsuit claims three ambulance crews couldn't drive to Mitchell's home because of snow-clogged roads. But, instead of paramedics walking to Mitchell's home, the suit said the crews repeatedly insisted he walk at least one block to them and even suggested he take a bus at one point.

The most inflammatory response came from since-fired paramedic Josie Dimon who was recorded on a dispatch tape cursing after Mitchell told 911 operators he was in too much pain to walk down the steps from his home to reach the second ambulance.

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

When Mitchell couldn't walk to the ambulances, the ambulances left. The suit names the city of Pittsburgh; Allegheny County's Department of Emergency Services; three top EMS officials; Dimon; three EMS supervisors; and a 911 dispatcher.

In addition to the paramedics' response, the family takes issue with 911 dispatchers who they claim didn't share information about the previous calls and realize that the situation with Mitchell's health was escalating.

"It was just a total failure of the system and a lack of training and knowledge by both EMS and 911 people," the family's attorney, Alan Perer, told the AP Thursday. "It was just sort of a perfect storm of errors and a tragic failure."

City Public Safety Director Michael Huss had previously apologized to Mitchell's family and is not being sued. Huss didn't immediately return a call for comment Thursday, but has previously said it was up to the paramedics to find a way to reach Mitchell - noting that other paramedics went above and beyond to reach others stranded in the storm.

"We tried to focus on the actual people who, in our opinion, exhibited gross negligence and really willful misconduct," Perer said. "Some of the actions of the individual employees were really outrageous."

He called the taxi service comment "totally over the line of human decency."

Assistant county solicitor Robert Burgoyn said the county doesn't comment on litigation.

The Pittsburgh Law Department did not immediately respond to comment on an e-mailed copy of the lawsuit, nor did paramedics union president Anthony Weinmann.

Perer and the plaintiffs were planning a news conference on the lawsuit later Thursday morning.



RELATED ARTICLES

1,800 EMS Workers Ratify 3-Year Contract with AMR

Emergency medical service (EMS) professionals working in 13 counties across California have voted to ratify a new 3-year agreement with the ambulance company...

FDM Records Management System Key to Minnesota’s First Integrated Public Safety System

Firefighters heading to a blaze in Anoka County, Minnesota will soon know if they will be walking into a drug house, thanks to a new Public Safety Data Syste...

British Columbia Paramedics Launch Major Public Awareness Campaign

VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s 4,000 Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers are launching a major province-wide public awareness campaign...

South Carolina County EMS Tries to Ease Workload of 24-Hour Shifts

Charleston County EMS schedule switch brings some praise and some grumbling Other agencies such as Berkeley, Dorchester struggle with fatigue, weigh possible...

MONOC is Awarded 911 EMS Contract for City of Orange

Wall, NJ – MONOC is proud to announce that it has just been awarded a one year contract to provide 911 EMS services to the City of Orange.  The co...

MONOC Medics First in New Jersey to Carry TXA

Wall, NJ – MONOC Paramedics are the first in New Jersey to carry a medication called Tranexamic Acid (TXA) on their Mobile Intensive Care Units to give...

Features by Topic

JEMS Connect

CURRENT DISCUSSIONS

 
 

EMS BLOGS

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

Featured Careers