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Union Blames Cops for EMTs’ 20-Minute Delay to Render Aid to Tyre Nichols, But Not Everyone Is Buying Their Excuse: ‘Their Patient Was In Obvious Distress’

The three fired EMTs who allegedly failed to follow protocol when responding to Tyre Nichols want their jobs back.

The union president representing the former emergency medical technicians claim, “there is no way any member could be truly prepared for a situation that occurred on January 7.”

Robert Long, JaMichael Sandridge and Lt. Michelle Whitaker were relieved of their duties on Jan. 30. Memphis Fire Chief Gina Sweat said Long and Sandridge, “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Mr. Nichols,” and Whitaker remained in the firetruck when they arrived at the scene The Associated Press reported.

Memphis Fire Fighters Association President Thomas Malone defended the EMTs and laid blame on the Memphis police officers on the scene. Malone claims “there was information withheld by those already on the scene which caused our members to handle things differently than they should have,” in a letter to Memphis City Council members.

The EMT workers first arrived on the scene at 8:41 p.m Nichols was already handcuffed, beaten, and slumped against the squad car. It was during this time Long and Sandridge should have conducted the patient assessment.

Sandridge and Long faced additional criticism from an attorney with the Tennessee Department of Health, according to WATN. Sandridge failed “to administer an IV or monitor Nichols’ vital signs” and both men were accused of “failing to administer high-flow oxygen or offer any other meaningful aid,” Matt Gibbs said.

A screenshot of a portion of the statement from the Memphis Fire Chief regarding the actions of the EMTs who responded to Tyre Nichols’ Jan. 7 deadly arrest. (Photo: Memphis Fire Department)

An ambulance arrived at 8:55 p.m. and Nichols was placed in the emergency vehicle and left for the hospital at 9:08 p.m. Nichols was transported from the scene 27 minutes after Long, Sandridge and Whitaker first arrived on the scene.

“Their patient was in obvious distress. I think that it’s obvious to even a layperson that he was in terrible distress and needed help, and they failed to provide that help…They were his best shot, and they failed to help,” Tennessee Emergency Medical Services Board Member Sullivan Smith said.

Malone goes on to suggest the EMTs deserve due process regarding the discipline issued in the Nichols’ case. 

“While some employees have in fact appealed discipline in the past, an employee has and should continue to have, due process to have a neutral party review said discipline to ensure the discipline is fair and with just cause,” Malone said. The three EMTs have all filed appeals, WATN reported.

As the impacted EMTs wrestle with their professional careers, social media users are already writing off their futures as first responders.

“Those EMTs should be stripped of their credentials/licenses and never be allowed to get an EMT or Paramedic job again. To the parents of #TyreNichols: All EMTs are required to carry malpractice insurance. Sue their a–es,” Peggy Brava of Twitter said.

Annie Weathersby shared similar sentiments on Facebook.

“All three of them needs to be fired and their license taken and they needs jail time and be fined for their terrible actions that they committed toward that young man,” Weathersby wrote on Facebook.

“What grounds are they appealing on???? Get out of here climb back under your rock & quit wasting our time,” Kim Robbins England said on Facebook.

Facebook user Mario Williams criticized Malone for shifting blame onto the officers.

“Of course they have,” Williams said of the EMTs appealing their terminations.

“What’s worse though is how the union president shifted the blame to the officers, rather than those EMTS stepping up and getting involved, using their own eyes to visually see what was going on,” Williams continued.

Long and Sandridge had their professional licenses suspended by a state medical board and Whitaker’s license was not considered for suspension.

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