Firefighter faces punishment for driving burn patient to hospital after ambulance delayed on Christmas Eve

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma City Fire Department major was disciplined last week for rushing a young burn victim to the hospital on his own Christmas Eve after waiting 20 minutes for an ambulance.

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Maj. Corey Britt

Firefighters with knowledge of the disciplinary action say Maj. Corey Britt has been relieved of his role as a senior company officer at Station 34.

Britt was forced to sneak out the back of Station One following his disciplinary hearing at headquarters.

“We don’t transport patients,” said Fire Chief Richard Kelley with Oklahoma City Fire Department. “That’s not our job.”

Kelley said this policy is also a state statute.

Britt, a veteran of 25 years, learned he will keep his pay and rank but will face what the chief calls “internal corrective measures.”

Kelley said the initial complaint against Britt came from EMSA, the emergency service that was more than 20 minutes late during the Christmas Eve call.

“Most of the times, those calls are excellent, but if you miss the mark, we talk about it and correct it as necessary,” said Deputy Chief Mike Walker, with the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

However, the family of the young burn victim said they are forever grateful for Britt’s decision.

Photo goes with story
The Amme Family

“I appreciate every decision he made when the system failed us,” Kristin Amme said.

Some of Britt’s colleagues also said they stand in support. They didn’t want to go on camera, but said, “None of the firefighters feel like this is fair. Yes, we know he broke policy, but he was only trying to help the child.”

Logs show Britt’s Engine 34 was dispatched on a medical call of a toddler with second-degree burns all over her body at 7:05 p.m., with a second engine added to that call 45 seconds later. Britt and Engine 34 arrived at 7:13 p.m. and assisted with care. At 7:17 p.m., Britt requested that EMSA upgrade their response from a Priority 2 to a Priority 1, which EMSA did.

At 7:22 p.m., Britt asked for an ETA from EMSA and was told the ambulance had been on the road for four minutes. At 7:30 p.m., Britt informed dispatch to cancel EMSA.

Britt decided the little girl couldn’t wait and drove her to the hospital himself.

OKCFD said the Automatic Vehicle Locator on the EMSA unit indicated that it was less than a half mile from the scene when canceled by Britt’s Engine 34.

When asked if recurring ambulance delays due to the pandemic could have played a role in Britt’s state of mind, Walker replied, “It could. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the officer’s state of mind, but on the other side, we are trained to deal with these emergencies.”

Cameron Weems, the president of OKC Firefighters Local 157, released the following statement to KFOR Friday night:

“In light of recent events concerning the discipline on an OKC Fire Department member in regard to transporting a pediatric burn victim to the hospital, Local 157 stood in full support of him during his investigation. While his actions would not be considered routine, Major Corey Britt gave to the department the reasoning behind his decision. Unfortunately, obstacles arising from both COVID-19 and staffing on transport vehicles has caused issues with longer-than-normal wait times for patients on scene of an emergency. Going forward, this Local looks forward to productive conversations with all parties involved to find remedies to this issue. In doing so we will be able to avoid putting our personnel in the unenviable position of trying to provide quality care while also being unsure when additional assistance will arrive in the form of a transport unit.”

CAMERON WEEMS, PRESIDENT OF OKC FIREFIGHTERS LOCAL 157

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