Last Updated on December 16, 2021
A 56-year-old man died last month after California paramedics allegedly refused to enter a care facility to assist him when he was not breathing.
The incident took place on Nov. 11 in Rialto, California.
A 911 call from the Rialto Post Acute Care Center sent first responders there at about 7:50 p.m. When police officer Ralph Ballew arrived, two Rialto Fire responders were at the door of the facility, according to KTTV-TV, which obtained Bellew’s bodycam video of the incident.
In the video, the officer speaks to the care home personnel, who explain that the man is in cardiac arrest. The officer tells them the paramedics are refusing to come in. “They’re not going to come in. They’re saying that it’s a state law that they can’t come in,” Bellew tells them.
The video shows personnel working on a patient, appearing to administer CPR, while telling the officer the bed has no wheels.
The video shows Bellew and nursing staff pushing the bed to the doorway and down the hall.
Once the patient is past the front door, the paramedics take over.
Joseph Angulo, 56, was transported to a hospital, but he later died.
“It is difficult to watch the tape,” Rialto Mayor Pro Tem Ed Scott said.
Scott said he was told about the incident and then contacted the city attorney.
Sergy El More-Shedy from the state Emergency Medical Services Authority said there was no law barring personnel from assisting the man.
“Upon acceptance of a call assignment, California paramedics cannot refuse service (i.e., assessment, treatment, transport) unless directed by law enforcement or if the scene is unsafe. Local protocols may change instructions for the conditions to assess, treat, and/or transport,” he said in a statement.
Rialto Acting Fire Chief Brian Park said the paramedics involved were put on leave pending an investigation.
Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson also promised an investigation.
Paramedics “insisted the patient had to be brought outside the facility before they could provide any sort of treatment,” Bellew wrote in a report, according to LAFocus.
“I was informed due to an unspecified COVID-19 law, fire personnel was prohibited from entering the facility and the patient needed to be brought outside,” he wrote.
Ballew said paramedics refused to help bring the patient outside.
“Despite being in their line of sight, fire personnel still insisted on (the patient) being brought to them outside before they began life saving efforts and made no effort to assist me in getting (the patient) outside,” he wrote.
Ballew said paramedics told him “some COVID-19 law” prohibited them from entering the facility.
“I was then told (since) the implementation of said law, Rialto Fire Personnel had not received any direction on how to proceed from their command,” he wrote.