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Paramedics Discuss OHP, EMT Scuffle

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Some people are critical of paramedic Maurice White's decision to leave the ambulance. Some people are critical of paramedic Maurice White's decision to leave the ambulance.
"Patient abandonment is refusing to give the appropriate medical care at the time. Is it appropriate to sometimes step away from your patient? Absolutely," said Tina Wells, EMSA Spokeswoman. "Patient abandonment is refusing to give the appropriate medical care at the time. Is it appropriate to sometimes step away from your patient? Absolutely," said Tina Wells, EMSA Spokeswoman.
The News On 6 spoke with several paramedics and the only thing everyone agrees on, is that they've never seen anything like it. The News On 6 spoke with several paramedics and the only thing everyone agrees on, is that they've never seen anything like it.

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, OK -- The attorney representing the Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper involved in a scuffle with a Creek Nation EMT held a news conference Monday in Oklahoma City.

The news conference comes just days after OHP released the dash cam footage of the argument.

Since the video was posted on NewsOn6.com, the story has gotten hundreds of comments.

6/14/2009  Related story: In Depth: OHP Trooper's Dash Cam Video

Some people are critical of paramedic Maurice White's decision to leave the ambulance.

Linda from Henryetta asks, "What business did he have deserting his patient under fire? You never leave a patient."

So is this a case of patient abandonment?

The News On 6 spoke with several paramedics and the only thing everyone agrees on, is that they've never seen anything like it.

Perhaps lost in the physical confrontation and high drama outside of the ambulance is what was going on inside.

"It all goes back to the patient and keeping the patient's best interests at heart," said Tina Wells, EMSA Spokeswoman.

Paramedic Maurice White was transporting a patient for heat exhaustion. She was hooked up to an IV and a cardiac machine called an EKG.

She was also strapped down to a gurney, meaning she could not move.

"My patient comes first and once I start care, I'm going to go ahead and stay with my patient," said Major Phil Reid, Broken Arrow EMT.

Phil Reid is in charge of Broken Arrow's EMT service, which also serves a large swath of Wagoner County.

He says he would have handled it differently.

"I really feel like I would stay with my patient and see if my partner could handle what was going on," said Reid.

Some paramedics say White did the right thing by talking directly with the trooper.

"I honestly believe the paramedic was acting in the best interest of the patient that was on board. He wanted to find out what was going on and at least tell the trooper there was a patient on board," said Lance Elrod, Broken Arrow paramedic.

The dash cam video shows White checking in on the patient.

Trooper Martin also pokes his head in.

At the end, so does the driver.

But for this entire episode, no one is inside the ambulance with the patient.

"Patient abandonment is refusing to give the appropriate medical care at the time. Is it appropriate to sometimes step away from your patient? Absolutely," said Tina Wells.

And as a paramedic, Reid says he believes Maurice White's biggest motivation was getting his ambulance, back on the road.

The News On 6 spoke with Maurice White's attorney on the phone.

He says the video shows that Trooper Martin was trying to detain the driver and White could not let that happen.

"With no driver, then that patient would still be sitting there at the side of the road," said Richard O'Carroll, Maurice White's attorney.

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