EMT Breaks Rules To Help Sick Child, Receives Suspension

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Ellenville First Aid and Rescue Squad volunteer Stephen Sawyer admits he broke the rules when he transported a 4-year-old who was having seizures to the hospital. That's not the problem — the rules are the problem.

When EMT and squad leader Sawyer received a call on Dec. 11 around 11 a.m. at the Webster Street headquarters about a 4-year-old having seizures, a paramedic was dispatched and a call for an ambulance placed, reports Times Herald-Record.

Finding an available ambulance proved difficult. After 15 minutes, Sawyer decided he could not wait any longer.

Squad rules state that an ambulance driver must be over the age of 21. Sawyer is 20, with experience driving ambulances for Mobile Life. He ignored the squad rule and drove nearly 5 miles, picked up the child and his mother, and the paramedic and got them to Ellenville Regional Hospital without any problems occurring.  

That is, until he was awakened later that night by his squad captain asking about the incident.

"I wouldn't have been able to sleep at night or go to school knowing there's a 4-year-old suffering," Sawyer said to Times Herald-Record.

Sawyer was called to appear before Ellenville squad's seven-member board of directors. The board's decision was 4-3 against Sawyer resulting in a 60-day suspension, revoking of his title on the communications committee and his title as advisor from the Youth Squad.

Shocked by the decision, Sawyer grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and immediately tendered his resignation.

Comments are pouring in about the incident on social media channels and they show support for Sawyer while criticizing the board's actions, according to Newsday.

For what it's worth, the decision was reportedly not only dictated by this one incident. It was a "culmination of different incidents" in which he violated policies and bylaws as well as other aspects of the call on Dec. 11, said John Gavaris, a captain and board member for Ellenville First Aid and Rescue Squad. Gavaris would not elaborate further.