Chicago Protocol Revised After Paramedics Left Gunshot Victim ‘For Dead’ for an Hour

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
July 12, 2019 Updated: July 12, 2019

The Chicago Fire Department (CFD) has implemented new protocol after its paramedics left a teen gunshot wound victim “for dead” on the street for an hour last year.

An investigation, which is still underway, was launched by the department after Erin Carey, 17, was left unattended for an extensive period of time, with a severe gunshot wound to the head on June 18 last year, reported the Chicago Sun Times.

Although he initially survived the shooting, paramedics covered him with a white sheet for over 60 minutes, a lawsuit filed on June 17 by the teen’s family in Cook County Circuit Court states.

Carey was spotted by TV cameras moving under the sheet for at least 15 minutes, before paramedics performed CPR.

He was rushed to Stroger Hospital in “very critical condition” with a “catastrophic” head wound, and was pronounced dead about 20 hours after he was shot, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The Evanston Township High School graduate and five others were shot in the 1300 block of South Loomis Street in the University Village neighborhood, according to authorities. One shooting victim, a 22-year-old woman, died following the incident.

It is believed that the CFD paramedics may have mistakenly thought the teen had passed away.

Court documents state that his family allege CFD staff could have conducted an assessment of the teen, before transporting him for treatment at a hospital, and provided “at least a dignified transition into death.”

To prevent such an incident from happening again, CFD spokesman Larry Langford said it has now been made a requirement for its paramedics to attach heart monitors to every patient to confirm their vital signs.

“I can tell you that, yes, we have changed procedures in the aftermath of that tragic error,” Langford said, reported the Chicago Sun Times.

Unless patients have suffered extreme trauma, such as “decapitation,” the heart monitors will be used on all patients to check whether they are alive, he said.

“The monitor checks for cardiac activity and other electrical impulses generated in a living person. The monitor can go beyond what most people understand as simple flatline,” Langford explained.

As the CFD’s investigation draws to a close, Langford said some charges could be issued, but that nobody had been disciplined following the incident so far.

Speaking of his son’s treatment at the hands of the department, Carey’s father, Eric Carey, questioned whether paramedics had even checked if he was alive.

“Somebody truly dropped the ball on this,” he said, speaking at a televised news conference. “I think the Fire Department really dropped the ball on my son. Did you check and even see if he had a pulse?”

Langford explained fewer resources than usual had been directed to the site of the shooting, as the six victims were allegedly called in separately, instead of together, the outlet reported.

“This was spread out, and it wasn’t considered one incident,” he said, adding that there would have been “one or more supervisors there to call the shots” if they knew six people had been injured in the shooting.

“There might have been a different response,” he added.

Speaking after the incident last June, Langford said, “It is not the policy of the Fire Department to leave people on the street, even if they are mortally wounded.”

Mechelle Moore Carter, the teen’s mother, is filing a lawsuit against the paramedics who were at the scene, and the city.

Carter, who believes her son could still be alive today if paramedics had attended to him sooner, hopes damages from the lawsuit can “prevent a repetition of these circumstances.”

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.