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Update: Nurse Assaulted By Police Officer Gets ‘Apology’

Update: Nurse Assaulted By Police Officer Gets 'Apology'

—Links to arrest video and police statement

Police work is hard.

And it’s getting harder and harder.

The riots across the United States are proof.

Imagine being a target simply because you wear a uniform. Or, maybe you don’t have to imagine?

The sad truth is…

Police, fire and EMS don’t have to imagine what it’s like to be a potential target for violence. They know they’re targets.

They know their own safety is at much greater risk than maybe any other time in history.

That’s the reason police, fire and EMS need to work together.

It’s also the reason this update is so difficult to write.

This week a Utah police officer assaulted a nurse for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient. If you haven’t seen it already, you can watch the video on EMS Flight Safety Network facebook page.

It’s difficult to watch. Even after reminding myself how difficult police work is, and giving the officer full benefit of any doubt, the video is disturbing.

But unfortunately, it’s not the most disturbing part.

The most disturbing part is the Utah police department’s reaction to the video.

They (the Utah police department) read an obviously canned, pre-written response intended to apologize for the arresting officer’s actions. Again, giving the arresting officer and Utah police department the greatest benefit of doubt…

The ‘apology’ is pretty pathetic.

You can watch the Utah police department apology statement here.

EMS understands as well as anyone that mistakes happen. EMS gets it. EMS knows how humbling public service work can be. It’s time for police services to get it too.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. It matters.


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About the Author: Troy is an Air Medical Career Expert passionate about a team approach to improving air medical safety from the ground up. Troy is a former Army medic, Army pilot, Coast Guard pilot and EMS pilot. Troy has taught hundreds of wannabe flight medics, flight nurses and EMS pilots the exact steps needed to launch air medical careers.

Comments

  1. it is all well and good for the apology but the fact remains that this is someone that is doing the wrong thing and thinking that because he is a cop that he can do whatever he wants. he should be fired from this job because he obviously has a problem with anger issues and who know how many times in the past this has happened of how many more times it will happen. He has the mentality of a 3 year old that did not get his way so he is going to make “them pay” for not doing what he wanted. if you don’t have the ability to do the job then you should not be in the job.

    • Jim,

      Thanks for sharing your opinion.

      No matter how you look at it, it’s a bad situation. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward from this point. I personally tend to agree with you. I also think if the arresting officer would have publicly apologized to the nurse – it would have had a more positive impact, or at least have come across as sincere (assuming he really is sorry).

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  2. Troy,

    I worry about the “fire him NOW!” mentality. Yes, this video was disturbing to watch and the treatment I’m sure even more heinous to endure. This enforcer of the law should have known the law…absolutely! But there is a process, yes, Det. Payne would have saved himself a lot of trouble by following the process, be that as it may…there is an independent and citizen review going on concurrently, while a criminal investigation has also been initiated by the DA…I’d like to let them decide the fate of this member of our community. Most of us, in our practice, have made errors big and small that have not ended our jobs or ability to practice and earn a living. Yes, this may be the ultimate end to this story, but let’s let justice prevail. Certainly there will be consequences, but I vote for justice rather than snap judgment secondary to emotional outrage, even if I am outraged and I am.

    By the same token, nurse Alex Wubbels actions demonstrated the best qualities of healthcare practitioners by advocating for and protecting her patient even at personal peril. She was the epitome of calmness under pressure, and an example to all of those watching what to do.

    Jerry

    • Jerry,

      Well said!

      The best we can do is learn from bad situations and make our default positions giving other professionals the benefit of the doubt – NOT fire them now!

      Hopefully, some positive lessons come from this bad situation.

      Thanks for sharing your experience and level-headed response.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  3. Agreed! Just FYI though, the original event occurred in July, not this week as your article mentions.

  4. I think the nurse needs to sue the police officer who arrested her and sue his police department. I understand we need to work together, but this was off the hook. That police officer should know what the law states about collecting blood from a person. He is not above the law at all. I have more to say, just not sure of the proper wording for this forum.

    • Lee,

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your viewpoint.

      I understand your frustration and your point. There needs to be accountability but also the ability to make mistakes, learn from them and move forward. It will be interesting to see what happens with this situation now that it’s getting quite a bit of public attention.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  5. This happened in July, more than a month ago. The initial police response was to just remove him from the blood draw program. And update their training. Until this was made public, that’s all it was going to be.

    Which is illustrative of why people have issues with the police. It’s not because they stepped on their man parts. It’s because routinely afterwards… nothing happens. So much for that higher standard right?

    As for the fire him now mentality.. it’s been 38 days, more than enough time to have performed their investigation, and made conclusions.. If they had bothered to start it immediately. “Now” is a good time.

    • Mike,

      You make two very strong points.

      First, If the police were truly concerned about fixing the problem, they’ve had 38 days to do so. Obviously, they weren’t concerned until all the bad publicity re-surfaced.

      Second, you’re spot on regarding why people have issues with police an any other public servant. It’s about trust. If you only take action to fix problems to avoid bad publicity, are you really trustworthy?

      Thanks for sharing your opinion.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  6. I hope he realises the multitude of charges that can be filed on him. Offiical opression, false imprisonment/detention, assault, not to mention a civil rights violation.

    If I were her I would file anything possible. This guy was way out of line. He obviously shows he has no respect for policy and procedure. He didn’t get his way. All he had to do was say, “OK, let me get a search warrant, be back shortly.”

    • Bill,

      You’re right. I think that’s one of the reasons this incident is getting so much publicity. People want (and need) to trust police. When police actions aren’t consistent with the law or people’s expectations, it’s a big deal.

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your opinion.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  7. I believe this is felony assault on a healthcare worker. He should be charged and so should the officers who assisted in the assault. Don’t fire him? Mistake? This wasn’t a mistake. This was an officer with anger issues who thinks he is above the law. This is criminal! Perhaps it’s a mistake if I rob a store at gun point. Surely, I should keep my nursing license and get another chance!

  8. Kathie,

    Thanks for commenting. I don’t know the specifics of what is required for felony assault on a healthcare worker. I do no the video is very telling and doesn’t leave anything to imagination.

    It will be interesting to see what comes of this incident and whether or not it sets legal precedence moving forward.

    Thanks again for sharing your opinion.

    Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  9. I am a retired law enforcement officer, and I can only say this embarrasses me that this occurred. Additionally, my Wife is a Nurse and I would be beyond angry has this had happened to her. I do agree with an earlier comment about letting the process be followed instead of an immediate termination, but as a supervisor who runs a 9-1-1 call center now I really cannot see another outcome. Unfortunate, is an understatement to describe this incident.

    • Keith,

      Thanks for sharing your perspective and opinion.

      I agree with you. The incident is beyond words. For what it’s worth, I believe most EMS professionals will judge this incident for what it is — a one time unfortunate incident in no way representative of police services as a whole.

      Unfortunately, it’s this type of incident that erodes public trust and makes police work that much more difficult for the honest, hard-working majority of police officers.

      Thanks again for commenting.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  10. He was plotting how to avoid to take good patients and only transients patients to that hospital in his ambulance driver role. I hope his supervisor doesn’t ask him to put his head in the oven…do you think he would ?? 😉

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