I saw this story originally over at Officer.com and wanted to make a few comments on the incident before it was lost in the headlines of how Lindsay Lohan spent her weekend.
Last Sunday, two Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers were videotaped during a physical confrontation with a paramedic in the rural community of Boley, OK (having lived in Oklahoma for a number of years, I have to confess that I even have no idea where that town is).
One of the troopers had stopped the ambulance which was actively transporting a female patient (non-emergency) to a hospital in another nearby community. From the reports, the trooper made the action after the ambulance had failed to yield to his vehicle’s emergency equipment--as OHP units were racing to assist county deputies involved in a hot call.
This is the video of the confrontation as was filmed by a family member of the woman being transported:
Note: As usual with my commentary, I was not there and do not know all the details. As a result, I will try to make specific comments and relate them to professional practices in an unbiased manner.
The argument over what happened prior to the videoed struggle (whether the EMT attacked the officer first) should be settled rather quickly by investigators and prosecutors as the OHP car’s video camera should have been running during the incident’s entirety.
Further, the positioning of the OHP car and the fact that the confrontation occurred at the back of the ambulance, would also allow for a full view of what happened from the second camera.
Pulling over an ambulance during a patient transport is something done only in exigent circumstances—non emergency or not. If an officer did not know that the ambulance had a patient at the time of the stop, once that information was ascertained, the issue is best resolved later-—allowing the ambulance to take the patient to the medical facility (again outside of exigent circumstances).
Running emergency for police and having drivers not yield to you is frustrating but simply par for the course. You search just about any of the police officer blogs online and you will see one or more posts on each of their sites about this issue. Despite the negative emotions that these non-yielding drivers (for whatever reason) elicit, an officer still has to remain professional and not appear as someone being driven simply by anger.
In a number of agencies' use of force policies, choke holds/arterial restraints are considered deadly force-—a technique to be used against a person to save the officer’s life or the life of another.
Stopping and detaining a patient’s transport is a significant liability for the officer’s department.
It would be reasonable for an EMT not to stop for police while in active transport of a patient. One paramedic advised that he would contact the officer’s dispatch inform him/her of the hospital they were in route to and have supervisors of both agencies meet them there.
In this matter, there seems to be plenty of witnesses. From the EMTs report, the trooper making the stop even had a female passenger with him.
The EMT's incident report (linked above) is descriptive. If just half of the information in the all of the reports is accurate, and the incident included obscene gestures, unprofessional radio transmissions, and wrestling matches in which no charges are filed, the only clear losers here are the emergency response agencies in Oklahoma (the police and paramedics).
The incident will cause a significant loss of public confidence—support that personnel from these two agencies desperately need to perform at the highest level of success.
This is certainly an unfortunate situation that should not happen.