Police say patient attacked EMS technicians then stole ambulance

Posted at 6:22 PM, Apr 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-08 18:59:44-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — “We’re playing cowboy out here,” said Mike Nevin, Detroit Fire Fighters Association President. “Its ridiculous."

Nevin says what happened to two emergency technicians is evidence something needs to change.

On Sunday evening, two EMS technicians picked up a patient from a home on Prevost Street who was suffering from a life-threatening overdose.

As they took the patient to the hospital, he allegedly woke up in the area of Greenfield and Curtis, attacked the technicians and stole the ambulance.

Action News went to EMS leadership to find out what is being done to prevent this.

“It probably happens daily,” said Joseph Barney, assistant superintendent of EMS, of the attacks on EMS workers. “I have been here 25 years. I’ve had guns, knives pulled on me.”

Barney says he knows what it is like to face such violence, so he has implemented training programs for first responders.

He showed us demonstrations of self defense classes and virtual reality training EMS crews are given to help avoid danger, and if it arises, remove themselves from danger. He says one of the paramedics attacked told him he used the self-defense training to escape the carjacking alive.

“I am just glad he is going to be able to go home to their families and back to work,” Barney said.

The two EMS technicians suffered minor injuries, but are expected to make a full recovery.

The union is calling for an increase in ambulances, staff and police back up. The city says some staffing increases are being worked on in the near future, but not to the level the union is calling for.