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Police: Rialto Fire Paramedics Cited Nonexistent COVID Law When They Refused To Help Man Suffering Heart Attack Inside Facility

RIALTO (CBSLA) — A pair of paramedics have been placed on leave after claiming they could not enter a facility help a man suffering a heart attack for fear of contracting COVID-19.

rialto paramedics
(credit: CBS)

The incident happened last month at Rialto Post Acute Care Center. Body cam video shows a Rialto police officer dispatched to the facility found two Rialto Fire paramedics hovering at the entrance, refusing to go inside to help a 56-year-old man who had just suffered a massive heart attack.

Nurses were "distraught…pleading for help," the police officer wrote in his report on the incident. "Fire personnel insisted on the patient being brought to them outside before they began life saving efforts and made no effort to assist me."

The officer had to push the bed, which did not have wheels, outside before the paramedics would help him. The patient did not survive.

The paramedics had cited a state law prevented them from going inside due to the risk of COVID-19, but there is no statewide regulation preventing paramedics from entering care facilities. However, there is an outdated memo from April of 2020 advising first-responders to minimize their exposure to the virus.

Deputy Mayor Ed Scott said he was shocked to learn what happened.

"I frankly was appalled. It's just horrific to think that your last moments, the help you needed, might not be there," Scott said. "Our officer frankly deserves a medal for going in, and getting the patient out."

The paramedics, who have not been identified, have been placed on leave during the investigation.

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