RAYTOWN, Mo. – A family in Raytown is frustrated over how emergency medical services handled a recent call for help.
When 79-year-old Lincoln Taylor and his daughter, Michelle, called 911 to dispatch an ambulance to Taylor’s home early Friday morning, they trusted that paramedics would take Taylor’s wife to St. Luke’s Hospital on the Plaza.
“We thought we were going to get in the ambulance,” he said.
Taylor’s wife, Etta Taylor, learned she had tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday. Her doctor told her that if her symptoms worsened to call for ambulance – not to just show up to the hospital.
Taylor and his daughter, on a 3-way call, alerted dispatch that the 67-year-old matriarch had the virus.
When paramedics arrived, Taylor said they spent at least five minutes asking his wife questions. However, he said she couldn’t talk.
“She was coughing, couldn’t breathe and he just standing up there wanting to know what’s wrong with her, and I just told him if you not going to take her, just go,” he said.
Michelle was already en route to meet her mom at St. Luke’s when she got a call from her dad saying she needed to pick her mom up because the ambulance left.
“That was wasted, valuable time for my mom,” she said.
By the time they arrived at the hospital, Michelle said her mom’s oxygen levels were extremely low.
“That could’ve been my mom’s last breath in my car,” she said. “For them to treat their taxpayers like that is unacceptable.”
“We don’t deny people transportation,” said Ben Chlapek, the assistant chief of EMS for Raytown Fire Protection District.
Chlapek said if a patient is not in distress, paramedics give them the option to ride in the ambulance or with a family member.
“The patient in the end told our crew, I’d rather just ride with my daughter,” he said. “If she does that, we can’t take her against her will.”
“If we were able to do this ourselves, we would’ve done it in the first place,” Michelle rebutted. “We wouldn’t have wasted almost an hour calling the hospital to give them a heads up. We wouldn’t have called the paramedics twice to try to get them here. If we felt like we could help her, we would’ve done that.”
Chlapek offered an apology to the Taylor family, but they said they want accountability, not words.
“If you take the job to be a paramedic, you take the responsibility to get the people where they’re supposed to be going,” Lincoln Taylor said. “If you can’t do that, why be a paramedic?”
Etta Taylor called her family during our FOX4 interview with some good news: She’s expected to be released from the hospital Thursday.