Most everyone saw the shocking footage of a Utah nurse being arrested for protecting a patient’s rights. The video was everywhere.
But in a bizarre case of mistaken identity, that incident has had a negative impact on employees of Augusta’s own Gold Cross EMS.
Earlier this month, a Salt Lake City police detective named Jeff Payne made national headlines after he was filmed arresting the head nurse at the University of Utah Hospital’s burn unit after she refused to let him take blood from an unconscious patient.
Police body camera footage from the Salt Lake City Police Department of the July 26 incident was aired on practically every major network.
The video showed Utah nurse, Alex Wubbels, trying to explain to Payne that, under the hospital’s policy and agreement with the police department, the detective could take blood from a patient only if the individual had given consent, he or she was under arrest or a warrant was issued.
However, the detective didn’t have a warrant, and the badly injured patient wasn’t conscious, so he couldn’t give consent.
Therefore, the detective was barred from collecting blood samples — not just by hospital policy, but by basic constitutional law.
The patient in question reportedly was involved in a collision with a car fleeing police, but he was not suspected of wrongdoing in the crash. In fact, the driver of the fleeing car was killed in the collision.
When the nurse refused to take a blood sample from the unconscious patient, Payne told Wubbels that she would be arrested and charged if she refused.
But the nurse politely stood her ground. In fact, she got her supervisor on the phone to back up her decision.
“Sir,” the supervisor warned Payne, “you’re making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse.”
All of a sudden, Payne lost his temper. He grabbed the nurse (who was resisting the arrest), shoved her out of the building, handcuffed her and dragged her to his unmarked police car.
As a result of widespread outrage over the video, Gold Cross Ambulance in Salt Lake City fired Payne, who worked as a part-time Paramedic.
“We take his inappropriate remarks regarding patient transports seriously,” Gold Cross Ambulance of Utah reportedly said in a statement. “We acknowledge those concerned individuals who have contacted us regarding this incident and affirm our commitment to serving all members of the community with kindness and respect. We will continue to maintain our values of outstanding patient focused care, safety and the complete trust of the communities we serve.”
The entire incident involving Payne had completely disrupted the ambulance company’s operations, according to Mike Moffitt, president of Gold Cross Ambulance in Utah.
The ambulance company reportedly received a number of angry and threatening calls to their dispatch center, from people all across the country.
Moffitt told a Utah news station that callers were threatening to cause violence by saying things such as, “We’re going to beat you up,” and “We’re going to blow you up.”
The calls became such a concern, Moffitt said the ambulance company was placed on lockdown.
So, what does this all have to do with Augusta?
Well, there was a bizarre coincidence that directly impacted Augusta’s own Gold Cross EMS.
Even though Augusta’s Gold Cross is not at all associated with the Gold Cross Ambulance Company in Salt Lake City, an outraged national audience pounced on our local ambulance company with “hate mail galore.”
On Sept. 3, a representative from Gold Cross EMS of Augusta issued the following statement on its Facebook page.
“I would like to clarify something. The police officer who arrested the nurse at ‘University Hospital’ in Utah that works for a ‘Gold Cross Ambulance Service’ in Utah and has an almost identical name to one of our employees is not in fact related,” Gold Cross EMS of Augusta stated. “No need to keep sending us hate messages and threats. Gold Cross EMS has no affiliation with the Gold Cross in Utah and I am pretty sure that University Hospital in Augusta has no affiliation with University Hospital in Utah. Thank you internet sleuths but you got the wrong Gold Cross and University.”
According to those aware of the mistaken identity, some of the messages sent to Gold Cross EMS of Augusta from all across the country were extremely harsh.
“I can’t believe some of the private messages I am getting,” one Gold Cross of Augusta employee wrote on Facebook.
To make matters worse, Gold Cross EMS of Augusta was right in the middle of trying to help victims of Hurricane Harvey and preparing to aid those impacted by Hurricane Irma.
Needless to say, the last thing the ambulance company needed was unwarranted harassment by some clueless crazies across this country.
But, as always, the staff at Gold Cross EMS in Augusta handled it like true professionals.
Just this week, Gold Cross EMS turned its attention to helping those in Florida trying to recover from Hurricane Irma.
“We are down in Florida helping right now,” Gold Cross EMS posted. “We have put up four additional overtime trucks locally to help with the shelters as well.”
Thank you, Gold Cross EMS of Augusta, for all you do.