Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

OHP Official Position – Don’t Get Caught On Camera, Otherwise Good Job.

I wonder if I am reading too much into this press release.[1]

A rushed press release that is the day after a law suit is filed. Apparently the law suit does not involve the OHP, but just Daniel Martin. After this press conference, Maurice White, Jr. may want to focus on OHP, rather than Daniel Martin. It seems that Daniel Martin’s behavior is the kind of behavior that OHP expects from their troopers.

I guess I was wrong in my criticism of Daniel Martin’s lawyer. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol basically exonerated Daniel Martin. They just have a problem with him being caught on camera. A rushed press conference. While President Obama is on TV giving a prime time speech on health care reform. The perfect cover for them to sweep this under the rug.

OHP spokesman Capt. Christ West, reading from a news release, said Martin had a right to stop the ambulance and had justification to arrest the paramedic for obstructing an officer but that the situation could have been and should have been handled differently.[1]

In other words:

It is OK to arrest the paramedic taking care of a patient.

It is OK to chase down an ambulance and pull it over, because you thought somebody gave you the finger, even though giving the finger to OHP is not probable cause for a traffic stop (at least according to Daniel Martin’s lawyer, the guy who keeps busy defending OHP troopers against criminal charges).

When your ego is on the line, and OHP has given you a badge and a gun, you can arrest anyone you like, because public safety is not important.

Martin’s demeanor and language were unprofessional and contrary to what is expected of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper by both the Department of Public Safety and the public, West said.[1]

It took OHP administration almost 3 months to recognize this?

It only took Daniel Martin 11 seconds to arrive at a crime scene, come to the conclusion he had more important things to do, and go chasing after an ambulance for something that is not even justification for a traffic stop.

OHP is obviously not in the same league as Daniel Martin. They are slow.

It would have been more appropriate to allow the ambulance to continue to the hospital immediately once he knew that a patient was on board, West said.[1]

Really?

They didn’t want Daniel Martin to shoot out the tires, launch some tear gas into the patient compartment, fasten a bayonet to his sidearm, and take no prisoners? Argh! Double Argh!

Really?

He did not take questions after he read the statement.[1]

What could this public information officer possibly say to defend what he just read?

Maurice White, Jr., I do not agree with everything you did, but you do not deserve this kind of treatment from the OHP. I’m no lawyer, but I think it might be a good idea to add OHP to the law suit.

A review of the video tape supports your belief that probable cause existed to stop the ambulance for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. The ambulance had no emergency equipment activated and there was no indication that the ambulance had any patient on board. There was legal basis to stop the ambulance.[2]

I recommend that OHP implement some vision testing for the administrative personnel involved in this decision. Perhaps they have glaucoma and have been smoking too much medical marijuana to treat their impaired vision.

Consider the alleged infraction. Failure to yield. OHP states that the vehicle must immediately yield.

Immediately is an interesting word. It suggests that the driver should not consider anything except getting out of the way, but what if there are pedestrians on the side of the road? Animals? You hit a medium sized dog in a car and you may be deflected back in front of the trooper. What if a car in front of you is slowing down and pulling over faster than you can safely slow down and pull over in a much larger vehicle, such as one that regularly transports emergency patients, commonly known as an ambulance? Does anyone believe that unsafe driving is required in order to pull over immediately?

What about distractions to the driver of the emergency vehicle? OHP troopers do like to babble on about an ambulance doing some sort of magical reassembly, when the lights and sirens are turned on/off. Yet, an ambulance is still an ambulance with all of the emergency equipment, including emergency radios. Those emergency radios, plus a family member up front, plus communication with a partner in the back, plus communication with a hospital, plus communication with dispatch, plus the noise of the diesel engine, plus the insulation of having this large box on the back of the ambulance, mean that there is going to be a delay in hearing any sirens. Even if Daniel Martin were driving the ambulance, there would be a significant delay in hearing the sirens.

Then there are the visual impairments. A large box on the back of the ambulance that makes it difficult to see to the rear on a straight road, but on the turn where this occurred, this box guarantees that the person driving the ambulance will have almost no warning that someone is approaching with their lights on. The mirrors on a truck are not good at seeing around turns. Perhaps the administration of OHP may have some plan to repeal the laws of physics, but I do not expect them to be successful.

If immediately is to be interpreted literally, that would be irresponsible. While we should be as aware as possible of our surroundings and notice lights and sirens approaching instantly, there are many distractions when driving an ambulance. Several of these distractions combined will make it unlikely that even experienced OHP troopers would have noticed the lights and sirens immediately, never mind the impossible task of being able to pull over immediately. Pulling over immediately can only rarely be done with due regard for the safety of others.

To pull over immediately probably would have been reckless. I suspect that reckless driving is a more serious violation of the Oklahoma motor vehicle code than failure to yield. On the other hand, the ego of a trooper is more important to administration, than the welfare of a patient. Almost 3 months of paid time off.

The driver of the ambulance is responsible for the safety of the occupants of the ambulance and the other drivers on the road. Sudden, or immediate, changes in direction are a bad idea. It appeared to me as if Paul Franks pulled to the side as soon as it was safe after he became aware of the trooper. I did not see anything in the video to contradict that. Why would he pull over before he became aware of the trooper? We do not know when he became aware of the lights and sirens, but can only guess. Unless you claim psychic powers, you do not know either. He cannot respond to something he is not aware of.

Pulling to the side of the road does not relieve him of his obligation to drive safely. He swerved around a vehicle to avoid hitting it, but did not signal. Perhaps that was because he was surprised by the behavior of the driver of that vehicle.

The important thing is that these are questions that should be addressed, if at all, at the hospital after the transfer of patient care. Anything else is incompetence.

Then there is the question of what would happen in a court room. A judge, who does not work for OHP, is probably going to throw this out immediately. OK, maybe not immediately. The judge may take some time to provide a verbal spanking to the trooper for wasting the judge’s time, wasting the ambulance crew’s time, wasting the tax payer’s money, and endangering the patient.

Again, STATter911 seems to have the most complete, up to date information.
Oklahoma Trooper Daniel Martin suspended for 5 days. Ordered to anger assessment. OHP says stop and arrest justified. Finds medic obstructed officer.

OHP vs. Creek Nation EMS from the beginning, post by post:

Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Creek Nation EMS, and Abandonment 5/31/09

More on Abandonment, OHP and EMS 6/06/09

OHP Trooper Update 6/11/09

OHP Trooper Update II 6/11/09

OHP Trooper Update III 6/13/09

OHP Trooper Update IV – Holy Stammering Obscurantists 6/16/09

OHP Trooper Update V – Over an Hour of the Holy Stammering Obscurantist 6/17/09

OHP Trooper vs. EMS comment from anonymous 6/18/09

Some Corrections on OHP vs. Creek Nation EMS 6/20/09

OHP Trooper Update VI – A little Background on the Participants 6/22/09

OHP Trooper Update VII – A Little More Background on the Participants 6/22/09

Daniel Martin Suspended for 5 Days 6/22/09

Trooper Daniel Martin Subject of a Lawsuit 7/22/09

OHP Official Position – Don’t Get Caught On Camera, Otherwise Good Job. 7/23/09

An Interesting Development in the Daniel Martin Case 7/24/09

Trooper Daniel Martin In Trouble, Again 10/06/09

Maurice White Arrested 01/11/10

Footnotes:

^ 1 OHP trooper involved in scuffle given 5 days suspension
By MANNY GAMALLO World Staff Writer
Published: 7/22/2009 5:53 PM
Last Modified: 7/22/2009 8:53 PM
Article

^ 2 OHP discipline letter to Trooper Daniel Martin
From STATter911
Letter

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