A Letter in the File of Kenneth Montgomery

As reported by WPTY in Memphis, Memphis Fire EMT Kenneth Montgomery was assigned to a unit transporting a patient.  Instead of completing the transport he steered the unit to Firehouse 16, parked and went looking for a relief to take the rest of the job.

Kind of a no brainer to me and I hope to you too.

Finish the job you’re sent on.  That’s a letter in your file and in case you thought this would get you off the ambulance, think again.  Unlike many folks on Facebook, I’m not asking for your resignation, your EMT card, or anything else.

Why not?

The video posted at the news website includes certain “details” that got my memory spinning.

You see, I’ve been on this call 100 times.  I’ve even been on the call that is the 1 in a million like this, but I know that wasn’t an actual emergency and I’ll tell you why in a moment.

Using my amazing holistic detective skills I can tell you this was a morning run to a rehab center for chest pains.  I would honestly be surprised if they had to look at the map book for this one.  999 out of 1000 times the chief complaint does not match the signs and symptoms, someone will start to hospital shop, refuse a 12 lead ECG etc.  Treat every job like that 1 in a million until proven false.

I have no details as to the patient care or condition in this circumstance so don’t even comment that I’m not being compassionate.

I do have one set of details that, had it been happening, the press would have mentioned it for sure:

No lights and sirens to the hospital.

We can debate the benefits of playing Paramedic Pinball code 3 to the hospital, but it can tell us a lot about what may or may not have been happening in the back of that ambulance.

Had this been a code 3 return Mr Montgomery would indeed be facing harsher punishment from the likes of me, but having recently taken a promotional exam that dealt with similar situations there are a number of statements I need to gather before passing on a recommendation for disciplinary action:

1. Interview the call taker and pull the E911 tape to confirm the call.

2. Interview persons at the scene as to the disposition of the crew.

3. Obtain admission condition and discharge condition of the patient.

4. Interview Paramedic in charge of patient care.

5. Interview Mr Montgomery as to his thought process and justifications, if any.

and most importantly,

6. Were there actually any rules or regulations broken?

Is there a rule in your system that mentions being required to go straight from the scene to the hospital?  Even something as vague as “Timely Discharge of Orders” might stick to the wall, but my guess is Memphis is about to get one of those rules that can be traced to a name.

Mr Montgomery, what you did may not have been right, but it brings us into focus in a way we don’t need.  I’m sure private ambulance companies will be mentioning this event at the next system bid for sure.

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17 thoughts on “A Letter in the File of Kenneth Montgomery”

  1. Not knowing the circumstances surrounding it either, but speaking from within the organization, he did break rules and regulations concerning behavior. This may go down as lying on an official document which is conduct unbecoming, as well as state board charges for abandonment and revocation of his license which will end his employment per rules and regs.

  2. Not knowing the circumstances surrounding it either, but speaking from within the organization, he did break rules and regulations concerning behavior. This may go down as lying on an official document which is conduct unbecoming, as well as state board charges for abandonment and revocation of his license which will end his employment per rules and regs.

  3. Happy Medic, you brought up good points. However, when I went to class, one thing always drilled into me by my instructors, whether it was my Basic, Intermediate, or Medic, reduce the stress on your cardiac patient by transporting without lights and sirens. No offence, but, just because the news media did not mention no lights and sirens in the transport does not take away the fact that the Medic was not treating a true cardiac emergency. Granted, like you said, and interview with that Medic, and the dispostition of the patient when the hospital recieved him, and discharged him will let us know for sure. I may be off base her, been out of the buiz for 3 years, but, like a marine, once an EMT always an EMT. LoL! And just certain things always stick into your head. But, thanks for the insite too!

  4. I don’t think that there is an abandonment issue here unless he was the only crew member on the ambulance. I do think that it’s a fireable offense though. I’ve been on a lot of EMS calls, and a lot of stupid EMS calls near shift change. It’s part of the job, even if it’s one that we don’t like. Late calls happen, usually when you have somewhere to be right after work.

    I’m not one that’s quick to point fingers and say “Fire him.” but if the facts stand as you present them, I’d vote for termination.

    All of the factors that you present should be included, but I don’t know that the absence of specific rule is a good defense. I can’t access our rules and regulations from outside of our network, so I can’t say if we have a specific rule covering this. WE do have rules specific to responding to calls.
    When I get back from vacation, I’m going to look at the SOP manual and see what it says about this, if anything.

  5. I don’t think that there is an abandonment issue here unless he was the only crew member on the ambulance. I do think that it’s a fireable offense though. I’ve been on a lot of EMS calls, and a lot of stupid EMS calls near shift change. It’s part of the job, even if it’s one that we don’t like. Late calls happen, usually when you have somewhere to be right after work.

    I’m not one that’s quick to point fingers and say “Fire him.” but if the facts stand as you present them, I’d vote for termination.

    All of the factors that you present should be included, but I don’t know that the absence of specific rule is a good defense. I can’t access our rules and regulations from outside of our network, so I can’t say if we have a specific rule covering this. WE do have rules specific to responding to calls.
    When I get back from vacation, I’m going to look at the SOP manual and see what it says about this, if anything.

  6. I’m a bit behind the reading curve on this one. Dealing with my own problems just now. Does anybody know just how far they had to divert in order to pass the station? If it was directly on their route, that’s one thing. But if they had to add a mile or two on their route, that’s something different. I have jumped on calls as an extra hand at the scene and had the rig drop me off as they passed near the station by a few blocks. No diversion required and I was no longer needed on the rig. Very different than changing the transport route to suit my needs.
    Certainly I’m not saying something might make this incident acceptable, but you need to know all the details. Why was this EMT so focused on getting off shift on time? Did he have a court ordered appearance? Oh wait, Maybe that would make it worse.
    Just saying.
    UU

  7. I’m a bit behind the reading curve on this one. Dealing with my own problems just now. Does anybody know just how far they had to divert in order to pass the station? If it was directly on their route, that’s one thing. But if they had to add a mile or two on their route, that’s something different. I have jumped on calls as an extra hand at the scene and had the rig drop me off as they passed near the station by a few blocks. No diversion required and I was no longer needed on the rig. Very different than changing the transport route to suit my needs.
    Certainly I’m not saying something might make this incident acceptable, but you need to know all the details. Why was this EMT so focused on getting off shift on time? Did he have a court ordered appearance? Oh wait, Maybe that would make it worse.
    Just saying.
    UU

  8. If he had a court ordered appearance he wouldn’t have been detailed for ambulance duty anyway, the battalion chiefs are pretty good about avoiding those conflicts. Also, if he needed off work early, it is his responsibility to arrange for someone to relieve him early. If this is the unit I am thinking of, they stay busy. That particular station is not on a direct route, but still created a delay of care issue the State of Tennessee would look in to.

    Rumor is there has already been a preliminary hearing, so now it is in the hands of administration on what happens next. They usually have two hearings, one is preliminary just to gather facts and initiate an investigation, the other is a full hearing. After that that they have a predetermined amount of time to hand out discipline. Preliminary’s are informal, full hearings are formal and recorded.

  9. If he had a court ordered appearance he wouldn’t have been detailed for ambulance duty anyway, the battalion chiefs are pretty good about avoiding those conflicts. Also, if he needed off work early, it is his responsibility to arrange for someone to relieve him early. If this is the unit I am thinking of, they stay busy. That particular station is not on a direct route, but still created a delay of care issue the State of Tennessee would look in to.

    Rumor is there has already been a preliminary hearing, so now it is in the hands of administration on what happens next. They usually have two hearings, one is preliminary just to gather facts and initiate an investigation, the other is a full hearing. After that that they have a predetermined amount of time to hand out discipline. Preliminary’s are informal, full hearings are formal and recorded.

  10. Help me out; correct me if I am wrong. An EMT, on the job 8 1/2 years, picks up a patient, stops by the station so he can get off before completing the run; his reason was the traffic and so the paramedic could stick the patient, then he changes his story to getting off early to register his child (August 18th -which registration for city and county was August 3rd). Then again, maybe he had to go to his 2nd job – by the way, no court ordered appearance or emergency to get off. I don;t know of any discipline as of yet…..In another incident, others get punished in less than three weeks because of a part in a prank, which by the way has nothing to do with their JOB…one of the ones punished even got a demotion after being on the job 24 years with a clean record. Give me a break Memphis…if you neglect your JOB then you get a letter in your file….if you are part of a prank (maybe in bad taste) – you get demoted – something is very wrong with this picture.

  11. Help me out; correct me if I am wrong. An EMT, on the job 8 1/2 years, picks up a patient, stops by the station so he can get off before completing the run; his reason was the traffic and so the paramedic could stick the patient, then he changes his story to getting off early to register his child (August 18th -which registration for city and county was August 3rd). Then again, maybe he had to go to his 2nd job – by the way, no court ordered appearance or emergency to get off. I don;t know of any discipline as of yet…..In another incident, others get punished in less than three weeks because of a part in a prank, which by the way has nothing to do with their JOB…one of the ones punished even got a demotion after being on the job 24 years with a clean record. Give me a break Memphis…if you neglect your JOB then you get a letter in your file….if you are part of a prank (maybe in bad taste) – you get demoted – something is very wrong with this picture.

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