Stroke victim says EMTs told her she was faking

More complaints come in about rescuers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – About a month ago, Robin LaFavor says she passed out while working in a Northside office. Her boss immediately called 911.

A rescue crew from Fire Station 35 arrived and refused to take her to the hospital. LaFavor said they told her she was faking.

"They checked the vitals and said I was fine," LaFavor said. "She politely said I was a disciplinary problem and it was a waste of their time to be here because nothing was wrong me."

LaFavor's boss, Steve Leggett, whose family has close ties to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, was not about to question the decision, but now wishes he had. LaFavor was seriously ill and her husband had to take her to get help.

"I got to the hospital and they immediately code me stroke," LaFavor said. "I stayed in there for three days. I was not able to move my arms my legs until about 72 hours later."

Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith

The rescue unit was from the same fire station that questioned Michelle Smith (pictured, right), whom Channel 4 introduced Tuesday. Smith had a heart attack and the crew made her crawl down steps to get to a gurney.

LaFavor and Smith are not alone. After the story aired, Channel 4 received many calls and emails from other people who have similar stories about various rescue crews around the city. One woman said, "I am terrified of the city's (emergency medical technician) people."

Adam Crews (pictured, below) also emailed, saying the paramedics from another station did not believe him when he was showing symptoms of a major heart attack.

Adam Crews
Adam Crews

"I know they did not do any kind of heart monitor or anything," Crews said in a phone interview. "They said this was probably just a panic attack is what they told me, probably just a panic attack."

JFRD Chief Marty Senterfitt said Wednesday Fire Station 35 is under investigation, but because of privacy laws, he can't talk about specifics in relation to the complaints. He said the department evaluates each complaint.

"What are the facts? Did the paramedics make the right decision-making process, or did the paramedic mess up? And if they mess up they face discipline," Senterfitt said.

Senterfitt said the Fire Department responds to about 8,000 emergency calls a month and gets an average of one to three complaints a month.

"Now, the one thing we will never tolerate on the Fire Department is rudeness," Senterfitt said. "A paramedic has the right to evaluate a patient, but they do not have the right to be rude. We take that to the next level. That is guaranteed discipline when our paramedics do that."

LaFavor said EMTs need more training, and she resents the fact that they assumed she was the problem.

"It makes me very mad because, for one, I did not know what was going on," she said. "I am a very healthy person. I play sports. I'm active. I never did a drug in my life. And then to be told you are a disciplinary problem?"

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