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Reports: 6 Maplewood medics on leave over handling of nursing home call

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Six Maplewood firefighters and paramedics are on leave as an investigation of their response to a call at a nursing home is underway.

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, paramedics stopped resuscitation efforts on a dying woman at the request of her husband.

Although city officials could not discuss the details of the investigation under data privacy laws, the Maplewood city manager gave the Pioneer Press a copy of a police report on the Aug. 7 incident, which involved the employees who were suspended.

According to the police report, the 71-year-old woman, who had advanced Parkinson's disease, began choking and when nursing home staff responded, they found her unconscious and not breathing. They began CPR until the paramedics arrived and took over.

The paramedics were getting ready to take the woman to an ambulance for transport to a hospital when her husband arrived. He asked the medics to stop their efforts and allow his wife to die, according to the police report.

The medics complied; they took the woman back into the nursing home and removed all life support equipment, and she died about 20 minutes later, the police report said.

Investigation required

The woman's family said she had an advanced care directive that indicated she would not want to live a "low quality of life," but it wasn't readily available when the medics responded to the call. In addition, the paramedics were not acting on a doctor's orders, so they were required to take the woman to a hospital, according to KSTP.

For those reasons, Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell told the Pioneer Press his department was required to conduct an investigation. The department concluded the medics acted in good faith, and no criminal charges were filed against them.

But an external investigation is now underway into the matter, KSTP says. City officials say they expect it to take about a week, after which time they'll determine whether the paramedics will face any disciplinary action.

The family of the deceased woman hopes they don't. The woman's husband said the firefighters and paramedics were very professional. Her son said the family was grateful the medics complied with their request. He told the Pioneer Press, "I would hate to see them reprimanded for doing what the ... family [was] wishing."

Those placed on leave are Maplewood Fire Chief Steve Lukin and Assistant Fire Chief Clarence "Butch" Gervais, as well as two full-time firefighter/paramedics and two part-time firefighter/EMTs.

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