A former Detroit EMT was sentenced to jail time and probation for willful neglect of duty after an infant died when she failed to respond.
Ann Marie Thomas was fired from Detroit Fire Department after the department said she refused to help the baby while she was on duty just minutes away from the home in the 19900 block of Glastonbury.
The internal investigation led by Detroit fire commissioner Edsel Jenkins did not reveal a lot of redeeming information regarding what Ann Marie Thomas did while on the job.
According to an internal investigation, Thomas’s excuse for delaying was not about a concern for her safety but rather was about not wanting to have to do CPR on an infant for an extended period of time without additional resources. The investigation report characterized Thomas’ act as “depraved indifference”.
Here’s what Jenkins said in a statement:
“Today, we conducted an appeals hearing, which Ms. Thomas requested. After reviewing all of the facts of this incident, I have determined that the appropriate course of action is to terminate Ms. Thomas’ employment with the Detroit Fire Department effective immediately.”
Thomas was no beginner. She worked as a medic for years. The situation in question started off on the wrong foot. The dispatcher was frantic and incoherent, which made it difficult for Thomas to fully understand everything about the call. However, this much was clear – a mother had called for emergency help for her infant.
Although Thomas was less than a mile from the infant’s location, she refused to answer the call. Not only did she refuse to answer the call, she outright refused to do so.
Meanwhile, two minutes away, the baby was suffering. Despite “refusing” to help the child, Thomas arrived at the baby’s location six minutes after the call was placed and then radioed back to dispatch:
“33 is in position on Pembroke around the corner from the scene.”
“33, I’m going to need you to make that scene,” the Detroit Fire EMS supervisor said. “You’re going to have to make patient contact.”
Although Thomas was close to the home, she did not go inside. Her partner stood by her throughout the ordeal.
“Uh, Romeo 33? Updated information that the child is not breathing,” the supervisor said over the radio. “The baby was hooked up to an oxygen machine because it was premature. Romeo 33?”
The supervisor waited for Thomas to act, but she did not.
“Romeo 33, Medic 51, be advised CPR is being performed on your scene. Romeo 33, Medic 51. CPR is being performed by the baby’s mother.”
The Detroit Fire Department conducted two internal investigations after the incident. They found a record that Thomas, at one point, told the supervisor: “I’m not about to be on no scene 10 minutes doing CPR, you know how these families get.”
An ambulance eventually arrived. The baby was transported to the hospital, where she died the following morning.
“EMT Thomas was immediately removed from duty following this incident,” Commissioner Jenkins said. “She has since filed an appeal. As executive fire commissioner, I have the ability to make the ultimate determination.”
Thomas was convicted by a jury in 36th District Court. The willful neglect charge is a misdemeanor and carries a sentence of up to a year in jail.