The California city of Rialto is currently investigating a November 11 incident in which paramedics allegedly refused to enter a care facility to help a man in cardiac arrest, with emergency responders citing a COVID-19 guideline that wasn't fully followed.
On November 11, 911 dispatchers received a call from the Rialto Post Acute Care Center at around 7:50 pm. According to Fox News, the paramedics and police were originally there for an unrelated patient, with the officer stating in his report that the facility was being "problematic."
"After a few moments, an unknown employee of the location yelled out to fire personnel 'Please come help, he's having cardiac arrest,'" the officer wrote.
"Fire personnel responded by insisting the patient had to be brought outside the facility before they could provide any sort of treatment… due to an unspecified COVID-19 law."
The officer eventually went into the building by himself, who was greeted by frantic hospital staff.
"They are not going to come in," the officer told the staff as he rushed to the room where the man was. "They're saying it's a state law that they cannot come in."
Body cam footage shows multiple staff members surrounding the man's bed, with one nurse giving CPR.
The bed the man was on had no wheels, so the officer began pushing the bed towards the paramedics outside.
"Despite being in their line of sight, fire personnel still insisted on [name redacted] being brought to them outside before they began life saving efforts and made no effort to assist me in getting [redacted] outside," the officer wrote in his report.
Once outside, the several emergency medical personnel began treating the man, as one of the paramedics that arrived first asked administrative questions.
According to Fox News, the man was transferred to a local hospital and pronounced deceased about 30 minutes later.
In an April 2020 memo from the San Bernardino County Fire Chief's Association obtained by Fox 11, it states that "Personnel responding to long-term care facilities …. Should consider the following to minimize any potential risk for exposure: All dispatch centers will be requesting the facilities to move patients to the door or outside the location…"
It also notes that "If [the] patient cannot be transferred to exit for or outside prior to arrival, one member of Fire/EMS personnel should initially interact with the patient" and goes on to explain the type of Personal Protective Gear (PPE) that is advisable.
Rialto City Fire Department Acting Chief Brian Park said that the paramedics have been placed on leave pending a third-party investigation due to the "troubling video footage."
"Our Fire Department's mission is to provide excellence in responding to medical emergencies through 'compassionate service.' As Acting-Fire Chief, I will ensure the independence of the outside investigation," Park said in a statement on Wednesday.
"I also want to recognize and thank the Rialto Police Department and the Rialto Post-Acute Care Center nurses for their extraordinary efforts and heroism to save the patient’s life as our responders failed to act to our Fire Department's expectations," he added.
Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson also supported an independent investigation into the incident.
"The investigation will focus on the conduct of the responding Fire Department personnel and the reasons those personnel did not enter the acute care facility immediately," Robertson said. "Our prayers are with the patient's family, as well as our police officer and care center staff who had to endure such an unimaginable situation."