OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s a story that shocked residents across Oklahoma during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
An Oklahoma City firefighter was disciplined for driving an injured toddler to a local hospital.
In January of 2021, Oklahoma City Fire Maj. Corey Britt was called to the scene of a toddler with second-degree burns all over her body.
After arriving on the scene, Maj. Britt asked dispatch to call an EMSA unit to the scene. He also advised that it should be considered a high-priority call.
“We kept asking. ‘How much longer? How much longer until they’re here?’” remembers Quinn’s mom, Kristin Amme.
As the minutes continued to tick by, Britt made a decision to take matters into his own hands.
He canceled EMSA and decided to take 3-year-old Quinn Amme to the hospital in the back of the fire truck.
The move came at a time when first responders were becoming increasingly frustrated with by slow EMSA ambulance response times.
At the time, ambulance services around the United States were dealing with hospital systems that couldn’t admit patients fast enough, particularly when the medical centers were filling up with cases of COVID-19.
In other words, paramedics would pick up a patient and rush them to the hospital. But if a hospital bed wasn’t immediately available, the patient would remain in the back of the EMSA ambulance until one opened.
“When we deliver a patient to the hospital, we cannot abandon that patient until the hospital has a bed,” explained Deputy City Attorney Wiley Williams. “So, that can tie up an ambulance for four to five hours under current conditions.”
Following the incident, Britt lost his leadership position at Station No. 34 for breaking department policy.
“We are an emergency response service. We do not transport patients. That’s not our job,” Oklahoma City Fire Chief Richard Kelley told KFOR in 2021.
After learning that the 26-year veteran of the fire department was being punished, Oklahoma lawmakers started looking at the laws surrounding who could transport patients.
Sen. Darrell Weaver, (R-Moore), filed Senate Bill 1515 in response to the incident.
“The child’s parents were extremely grateful for the firefighter’s actions, but under the current law, he didn’t have the authority to take the patient to the hospital,” Weaver said. “SB 1515 ensures important protocols will be followed, but allows flexibility in limited emergency situations. I appreciate the tremendous support we received in both chambers and from the governor for this legislation.”
Under SB 1515, a certified emergency medical response agency would be authorized to provide limited transport in an emergency vehicle after receiving the approval of appropriate medical control.
“Allowing emergency vehicles other than ambulances to transport someone to the hospital in an emergency situation or during a disaster – when every moment counts – will save lives and improve medical response times,” Rep. Mike Osburn, (R-Edmond) said. “I was glad to be able to secure House passage of this common-sense update to statute and happy to see it signed into law.”
Osburn said the measure was requested by the Edmond and Oklahoma City Fire Departments.
On Monday, Gov. Stitt signed the bill into law.
It will take effect Nov. 1, 2022.