On Saturday, June 7, a Fire Department of New York (FDNY) ambulance crew, operating as paramedic unit 57V3, stopped to assist a driver involved in a motor vehicle collision they encountered while transporting another patient to a hospital. They ended up having to seek cover when threatened with a weapon by the vehicle_s driver. This same crew, minutes after being threatened by the gun-wielding driver, reversed their course and treated the perpetrator after he sustained mortal gunshot wounds in a gun battle with police. What follows is an accounting of the incident.
At about 2 p.m., the ambulance was transporting a 9-month-old female with seizures to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. While proceeding south on Albany Avenue, the crew encountered a car that had just struck a lamppost. The driver appeared to be injured and possibly trapped.
Paramedic Jacob Dutton, the driver, stopped the ambulance and proceeded to approach the car. As he closed in on the vehicle, the driver of the automobile raised a handgun and pointed it at Dutton_s face.
Dutton immediately retreated, running toward the rear of the ambulance. His partner, paramedic Joseph Fraiman, and their Northeastern University paramedic student observer, DuncanRegoninibegan to emerge from the rear doors of the ambulance. Dutton yelled for them to remain inside and continued running until he was behind the vehicle, out of sight of the armed driver.
When Dutton was safely behind the ambulance, Fraiman and Regonini questioned the integrity of the ambulance for bullets, so the entire crew, along with their patient and the patient_s parents, left the vehicle for the safety of a nearby delicatessen.
While this was occurring, members of the New York Police Department were arriving on the scene. As the FDNY crew entered the deli, an exchange of gunfire began. The crew then ushered their patient and her family, as well as the patrons and staff of the deli, toward the rear of the store for protection.
During the shooting, several teenagers appeared in front of the store, and the crew then redirected their efforts to getting the teenagers inside where they could also be protected.
After more than a minute of continuous gunfire, the scene grew quiet. The crew first ascertained from NYPD that the scene was secure and then left the deli to determine if there were any on-scene injuries. NYPD officers advised the crew that there were no police officers injured but the perpetrator was shot numerous times.
The crew of ambulance 57V3 began assessing the patient as other ambulances arrived on scene. Dutton stayed with the gunshot victim and Fraiman remained with the original patient along with Regonini. CPR was started, and C-Spine immobilization was performed as the pulseless and apneic patient was placed into FDNY ambulance 37W.
The gunshot victim was transported to Kings County Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Additional units on the scene removed the remaining patients and several police officers involved in the shooting. It was later determined that the initial involved ambulance (57V3) sustained damage from an errant bullet. The vehicle_s body was dented but not punctured. However, the bullet_s impact point on the left rear of the ambulance patient compartment was dangerously close to where the stretcher is positioned and just forward of the vehicle_s fuel port.
Immediately after all patients were removed from the incident location and the scene was secured by NYPD, 57V3_s crew was removed to the 77th Precinct to be interviewed by detectives and a district attorney. After their statements were taken, the crew members returned to their station, where they were interviewed by a member of the FDNY Counseling Services Unit and then sent home.
NYPD Sergeant Shawn Kelly commended the members of unit 57V3 for the outstanding job they did of ensuring their initial patient, co-workers, ambulance occupants and deli patrons were protected, and for providing an accurate accounting of the incident that was crucial to the investigation.
This incident demonstrates the inherent dangers EMS crews are confronted with on a daily basis, and the dedication, composure and professionalism FDNY crews and other EMS crews throughout the nation exhibit when confronted with dangerous and challenging circumstances.
Jacob Dutton, EMT-P
Joseph Fraiman, EMT-P
Duncan Regonini, Northeastern University student
Joanne Lopez, EMT-P
Franer Genois, EMT-P
Anne Sale, EMT-P
Daniel Rella, EMT-P
Steven Hornbrook, EMT-P
Mario Bastidas, EMT-P
Lt. Vincent Variale
JEMS.com Editor_s Note: For a complete discussion on what constitutes patient abandonment, read the JEMS.com article˙Patient Abandonment: What it Isƒand Isn_tÓ by W. Ann Maggiore.