Four emergency responders called to treat Eric Garner, who collapsed during an arrest by police on Staten Island Thursday, have been suspended without pay.
The EMT's and paramedics were employed by Richmond University Medical Center. Video footage shows medical technicians reacting without much urgency, even as Garner laid immobilized on the sidewalk, after he was put in what Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton described as an apparent chokehold by an officer. The 43-year-old was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Israel Miranda, president of Uniformed EMT’s, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors Local 2705, which represents about 4,000 members, said treating a suspect under arrest can be complicated.
“The problem here is that the police have their protocols and EMS has their protocols...you know it's a touchy situation there," said Miranda.
Competing priorities between the NYPD who are focused on security and EMTs who must administer medical care can bump up against each other. Most agree that it's the police who call the shots, especially since they carry the weapons. James Rocky Robinson is a retired FDNY Captain who runs the Bedford Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps. He recalled responding to a crime scene and officers told him a man shot 10 times was dead. He wouldn't take their word for it.
"I said I'm sorry I cannot pronounce that man dead from 10 feet away. I went up there, I got down and I saw the man's eyes blink." Robinson said of the gunshot victim, who survived.
The emergency veteran agrees with the decision to suspend the EMTs and paramedics in the Garner case. He thinks everyone who went to the scene that day needs to be re-trained.