NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Paramedics attended to a man who was bleeding from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, then left him to be taken to the morgue, saying his injuries were "not compatible with life," according to police documents.
They were called back to the scene more than an hour later, and this time they took the victim to a hospital.
Another eight hours passed before 32-year-old Antonio Foster was pronounced dead. Eight firefighters and paramedics who responded were placed on leave while the Nashville Fire Department investigates.
Fire Department Medical Director Corey Slovis said Thursday that paramedics used the wrong procedure for evaluating the victim.
According to a police report and other documents, the response Wednesday unfolded like this:
• 3:02 a.m.: The victim's roommate called 911, saying Foster had shot himself. Paramedics arrived at the town house 6 minutes later and began resuscitation efforts.
• 3:48 a.m.: Paramedics were filling out paperwork stating that the man's injuries were "not compatible with life." Vanderbilt University Medical Center had instructed paramedics not to transport the victim, and paramedics left while police remained on the scene. The medical examiner was paged, but didn't arrive before paramedics were called again.
• 5:06 a.m.: Paramedics responded again and took the victim to the university hospital. He arrived at 5:38 a.m., two and a half hours after paramedics had first been contacted. The man died at 1:51 p.m.
Slovis said he wrote the protocol that the paramedics used in accordance with national guidelines, and it has been in use for a number of years. Slovis said he intended to rewrite it immediately to make clear that it should only be used when there is "no pulse, no respirations, no movement."
"This has not happened before, to my knowledge, and it won't happen again," Slovis said.
Slovis said the reason for not rushing all dying patients to the hospital is that Emergency Medical Services workers and firefighters have been killed while transporting patients who have "already succumbed" or are "unsalvageable."
Interim Fire Department Director Chief Rick White said the leave is not a punishment. He said Nashville's Emergency Medical Services was "one of the best EMS divisions in the whole county. Until proven otherwise, I intend to stand by them on that."
The hospital was also reviewing the situation.
"We will take all steps necessary to refine and clarify our internal processes involving the transport of critically injured patients to Vanderbilt," Vanderbilt spokesman John Howser said in a statement.