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Lawsuit Blames City's Emergency Response For Tragic Death

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Last week, a North Philadelphia family filed a lawsuit against the city charging that inept paramedics caused the death of a 24-year-old pregnant woman and brain damage to her son.

The paramedics' union defends their response.

Joanne Rodriguez was eight months pregnant in October 2012 when she began having trouble breathing. Paramedics responded to a 911 call in minutes but the family's attorney, Royce Smith, says they entered the house without any equipment.

"Empty-handed, they couldn't assess her, they couldn't help her."

Smith says it took 18 minutes to get Rodriguez, whom he described as larger than average, to the ambulance where she finally received oxygen, but then at Temple Hospital broken door locks prevented a timely delivery of baby Xavier. He suffered brain damage and Joanne died.

Eddie Rodriguez says the suit is to get Xavier the care he needs but also to tell the city, "Anyone who calls 911 deserves better than this."

The city declined comment, but union president Joe Shulle says the paramedics are excellent but they are being pushed to exhaustion.
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