Paramedics Refused to Enter Citing COVID, Patient in Cardiac Arrest: Police Report

  • Paramedics allegedly refused to enter a care facility as a patient went into cardiac arrest, a police report says.
  • The patient was later transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
  • Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson called for a “thorough investigation” at a city council meeting last week.

Paramedics in Southern California allegedly refused to enter a long-term care facility, claiming it was against the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, as a patient went into cardiac arrest, according to a police report obtained by The Washington Post.

Last month, staff workers at the Rialto Post Acute Care Center in Rialto, California, called 911 shortly before 8 p.m. local time. First responders from the Rialto Fire Department responded to the scene, including Rialto Police Officer Ralph Ballew, who filed the report.

Body camera footage obtained by KTTV showed paramedics wearing masks and standing outside the premises of the care facility. The officer went into the facility to explain to nurses that paramedics couldn’t enter due to some “state COVID guideline.”

Though the paramedics did not specifically state the restriction they were referring to, KTTV reported that a guideline could be included in an outdated April 2020 memo, in which “personnel responding to long-term care facilities” should request “the facilities to move patients to the door or outside the location.”

The memo, however, goes on to say: “”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,” according to the KTTV report.

According to The Post report, one paramedic told facility staff that they would have to bring out the patient in order for him to receive care, to which the nurse said “could not move the patient and disrupt the rescue effort,” Ballew wrote in his report.

“You are doing the same thing we would have to do if we went in,” one of the first responders said, according to Ballew. “So, hurry up and bring him out so we can help.”

In the video, a nurse is seen administering CPR on the patient with other medical staff alongside the bed. Ballew proceeded to help the nurses to push the bed, which had no wheels, out the front door to the waiting first responders, who took over from the nurse to administer care. The patient was transported to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

“It is difficult to watch the tape,” Ed Scott, a city councilor in Rialto, said, according to KTTV.

Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson called for a “thorough investigation” at a city council meeting last week.

“We want to have a thorough investigation, and the actions [of the paramedics], if they were not in any way in keeping with policy, or even if it was, it will be addressed,” Robertson said, according to The Post.

Representatives from the Rialto Fire Department did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

Acting Fire Chief Brian Park said in a statement to The Post that the paramedics involved were placed on leave pending a third-party investigation.

Park went on to say the department aims to provide “compassionate service” to the public and that he would “ensure the independence of the outside investigation.”

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