August 27, 2014

Elyria
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LifeCare Ambulance paramedics disciplined for response to fatal stabbing

LORAIN — Two LifeCare Ambulance paramedics have been disciplined over their response to the Aug. 11 fatal stabbing of Lorain resident Jerome Phillips Jr.

“Nobody lost their job, but nobody is getting off scot-free either,” said Herb de la Porte, LifeCare Ambulance vice president.

While LifeCare provides public safety, it is a private company, and de la Porte said he wouldn’t identify the paramedics or detail the discipline. He previously has said both paramedics had clean records and that the discipline could involve suspensions or re-training.

The paramedics took 15 minutes to respond to the stabbing call. The average LifeCare response time in Lorain is 6½ minutes, de la Porte said.

LifeCare was called by a Lorain County 911 dispatcher at 1:43 a.m. and told a man was suffering from stomach pain. Phillips girlfriend and homicide suspect Anna Carter told a dispatcher in a 911 call that Phillips had come home drunk and fallen down and vomited as he was about to take a shower. She said he was bleeding below his armpit.

Phillips was stabbed in the heart, according to Dr. Stephen Evans, Lorain County coroner. Evans said Wednesday that because of the location of the stab wound, Phillips would’ve died even if the response had been faster.

Nonetheless, de la Porte said paramedics should’ve responded faster. Like firefighters, paramedics work 24-hour shifts and were asleep when they received the call. De la Porte said they took about five minutes to depart but should’ve taken three minutes.

He said road construction on West 21st Street slowed the response and paramedics had difficulty finding the apartment in the unlit apartment complex. The station, at 109 W. 23rd St. and Broadway, is about 5 miles from Carter and Phillips’ Beavercrest Drive apartment. The apartment is next to Mercy Regional Medical Center and the emergency room is just a few minutes’ walk from the apartment.

While acknowledging his paramedics should’ve responded faster, de la Porte was critical of the 911 dispatcher who he said was slow to alert LifeCare that Phillips’ condition had worsened. At 1:50 a.m., the paramedics were told Phillips was unconscious and at 1:56 a.m. they were told he stopped breathing as they were pulling into the complex.

Tracy Slagle, Lorain County 911 director, referred questions about the dispatcher’s performance to Jim Cordes, Lorain County administrator. Cordes said the dispatcher reacted properly and was being unfairly criticized by de la Porte.

“You don’t respond to an emergency callout and lollygag around because you think it’s not important. The response time’s the same whether it’s a heart attack, stomach pains or a stabbing,” Cordes said. “It’s preposterous for him to be trying to shed some of the responsibility.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

  • Arietta Sullivan

    i’m not surprise to read this…myself&family still talks about how 27years ago,my dad died&it took the paramedics in Lorain to not get there at least within 5 minutes&we were two blocks away from the spot where Life Care used to be at back then.it took them more then 5 minutes..thanks life care,you saved a life..NOT.

  • oldruss

    While Life Care is a private company, it has an exclusive franchise to provide emergency service in Lorain, which makes it a quasi-public company. As long as Life Care has a contract to provide emergency service in Lorain and surrounding communities, I think it’s records, including personnel records, should be treated as public records on par with those of the Lorain Fire Department, for example.

  • interesting differences

    The first article said it took them an extra 2 minutes to get to the truck and on the road, TWO MINUTES not 15min. Now the station is 5 miles away and most roads in Lorain have a speed limit of what 35MPH so BY LAW an ambulance can go ten MPH over the speed limit so the distance without construction is what a seven minute drive with construction what a 8 – ten and the public does not consider all the red lights cant blow those didn’t a Lifecare EMT go to jail a few years back for that??? And then they need to find the apartment which takes 2 minutes probably so at the least if all went right it would have taken between 11 and 12 minutes IF ALL WENT RIGHT!!!! so your telling me when a bunch of stuff went hooey an extra two minutes is something to be punished over… Something smells funny here.. My advice is ask your politicians to jack your taxes up and put a station every 2 miles because if you have to go five miles through a city it will take time… OH and DO NOT move out to the country you still pay taxes for an ambulance and you still get billed for a ambulance you pay the same amount but they are volunteers from home and it may take 8 minutes to get to the fire station!!!!!! The situation needed a scape goat and even though it only took 2 minutes longer to get there blame the EMT… OH and for all this hassle guess what they get paid between 10.00 and 15.00 max!!!!!!!

    • Just Stop It Already!

      The law does not state 10mph the law does not state a speed. The law states you have to “operate with due regard” Although certain departments or companies do impose a 10 mph limit over the speed limit. But it is policy not law

  • Wowsa

    What I find mores surprising is that EMT’s and Firefighters still work 24 hour shifts. Why does that antiquated practice still exist? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have people awake/alert for 8-12 hour shifts like nurses do? That way once a dispatch call is made, you’re not waiting for someone to wake up. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not at my best when I first wake up!

    • Just Stop It Already!

      You’re also not a firefighter/EMT

    • SoLoJimbo

      The fact is… it is significantly less money to work 24hr shifts. Mostly due to needing less people, saving on workers comp, health ins and benefits. If a fire dept like Elyria went to 12 hr shifts from 24 they would have to hire an additional 17 firefighters at a annual cost with pay and benefits of over $1million dollars. That’s why.

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