EMT disciplined for violating ambulance rule to help sick boy

Dec. 31, 2013 at 3:43 PM
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ELLENVILLE, N.Y., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- A volunteer emergency medical technician in New York state resigned after being disciplined for driving an ambulance while he was under 21.

Stephen Sawyer, 20, said he decided to break the Ellenville First Aid and Rescue Squad rule because no one else was available and a 4-year-old boy was sick and needed to be taken to a hospital, the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., reported Friday. He was alone at headquarters on Dec. 11 when the call came in and made calls to nearby squads but could find no one available.

"I wouldn't have been able to sleep at night or go to school knowing there's a 4-year-old suffering," Sawyer said.

Sawyer has experience driving ambulances as an employee of Mobile Life Support. He is also a volunteer firefighter and part-time police officer.

When the board voted 4-3 to suspend Sawyer for 60 days, he said he resigned immediately.

The case has drawn hundreds of comments on the Facebook page of Ulster Fire Rescue Incidents, most of them supporting Sawyer and criticizing the decision to suspend him.

John Gavaris, a captain and board member for the Ellenville squad, said the rule that ambulance drivers must be at least 21 is similar to the policy of other squads. He said most squads have found ambulance drivers need to be mature and have proper training and setting a minimum age helps ensure that.

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