Personal Protection Kits Help Protect EMSA Paramedics From Belligerent Patients

Monday, May 24th 2010, 5:35 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Several first-responders are being tested for AIDS after a violent run-in with a man who claimed he was HIV positive.

Authorities say the patient intentionally tried to spread the disease by spitting at them.

They say the deep cut above 46-year-old Daniel Hedge's lip is the result of a fight.

But Hedge's arrest Saturday night was the result of his reaction when first responders showed up to treat him.

5/23/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Man Arrested On Complaints Of Knowingly Spreading HIV And Hepatitis C

"We always go into calls with the understanding that it's going to change," said Jason Whitlow, EMSA. "But not knowing, it's hard to protect against everything."

Jason Whitlow says his crew had to protect itself against a very rare situation, a violent patient claiming to be positive for both HIV and Hepatitis C.

When EMSA first showed up after a report of a fight near the intersection of Admiral and Lewis, they say they had no idea this patient was going to belligerent. When they started treating him, that's when he began spitting blood.

"The most common is the gloves, the basic everyday gloves," Whitlow said.

EMSA paramedics all have personal protection kits. They always wear gloves, but during incidents like Saturday's they use a face shield. Unfortunately, because Hedge's behavior was so unpredictable, they were not wearing them.

"They didn't get a chance to protect themselves as well as they probably could have," Whitlow said.

Hedge was booked on complaints of spreading infectious disease and spreading AIDS. He's been in trouble before for shooting with intent to kill, and assault and battery with a deadly weapon.

Now EMSA says he's responsible for one of its most bizarre calls in recent memory.

"I've been with EMSA for a long time, and it seems like every time you think you've seen it all, something else happens," Whitlow said.

Officials are still waiting for Hedge's test results before confirming if he does in fact have AIDS and Hepatitis C.

One paramedic, a student who was riding along with EMSA, and a firefighter who assisted on the call have all been tested for both diseases.