The inaction of two Memphis Fire Department first responders fired after the deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols may have contributed to his death, according to a state emergency medical services board.
Advanced Emergency Medical Technician JaMichael Sandridge and EMT Robert Long “failed to provide any basic or limited advanced skills in emergency care” despite Nichols showing “clear signs of distress,” the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services Division said, according to documents from their summary suspension meeting.
Neither man has been criminally charged, and a union representative told CNN that the two have filed a civil service appeal for their terminations.
The board met on February 3 to rule on their license suspensions. The summary suspensions will remain in effect while the board decides on a longer-term basis what to do about the two men’s licensure status.
The summary suspension orders were obtained by CNN through a public records request.
Sandridge and Long did not conduct a primary examination of Nichols for the first 19 minutes they were on scene, including “obtaining vital signs and conducting a full head-to-toe examination,” according to documents from the February 3 meeting.
“Respondent provided no treatment to patient (Tyre Nichols) for the approximate 19-minute referenced time-period beginning at 8:41 p.m.,” the summary suspension documents for both men said. Sandridge was the senior EMT at the scene and Long was his partner.
“Patient T.N. did not receive, from Respondent, high-flow oxygen, did not receive an intravenous line and was not placed on a cardiac monitor for hospital interpretation,” according to the document for Sandridge.
Long did not administer “high-flow oxygen” to Nichols, his suspension hearing document noted.
Documents for the men noted each “did not engage his partner at the event location for purposes of taking appropriate action in safeguarding patient T.N. from incompetent health care practices of other emergency medical services personnel.”
One board member, Dennis Rowe, called their actions “egregious.”
Board members were shown a portion of the video released from the January 7 beating showing the arrival of fire personnel on the scene. After watching the video, they were asked if Long’s and Sandridge’s actions were grounds for suspension.
“These actions were negligent,” Rowe said. “There was every reason to believe those actions may have contributed to the demise of that patient.”
An initial investigation at the end of January concluded that the two EMTs “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Mr. Nichols” after responding based on both the initial call – in which they heard a person was pepper-sprayed – and information they were told at the scene – Gina Sweat, Chief of the Memphis Fire Department said in a news release.
A third Memphis Fire employee, Lt. Michelle Whitaker, was also terminated, after she was found to have remained in the fire truck when she got to the scene, according to a January statement from Sweat.
Earlier this month, in a letter to the Memphis City Council, Thomas Malone, president of the Memphis Fire Fighters Association, defended the terminated personnel and said his members “were not given adequate information upon dispatch or upon arrival on the scene.”
When reached for comment on the new findings Wednesday, the Memphis Fire Fighters Association said that they would not be putting out a statement.