Firefighter Works To Help Victims At California Crash Scene . . . Police Officer Arrests Firefighter When He Refuses To Stop To Move Truck

24637357_BG1-620x348The California Highway Police appear to have spent little time in making an arrest in a recent crash in Chula Vista, California. Unfortunately, the officer arrested a fire fighter who was struggling to help the seriously injured driver and other victims.

On Tuesday night, a police officer ordered a fire fighter to move his truck out of the center divide of the road and the fire fighter said that he was too busy saving the life of the driver. The officer then arrested the firefighter and put him in handcuffs in the cruiser for half an hour. He sat there while victims needed attention and the officer then released him.

Chula Vista Fire Department Chief Dave Hanneman objected to the “ridiculous” arrest, though he sounded a bit like the Sprint manager of a phone bank: “It doesn’t provide the good customer service, the good public service that both of our agencies are there to do.”

A meeting is planned today between the California Highway Patrol and Chula Vista Fire Department to “work out” the incident like two rivaling gangs. I would just be careful where I parked if I were with the CVFD.

48 thoughts on “Firefighter Works To Help Victims At California Crash Scene . . . Police Officer Arrests Firefighter When He Refuses To Stop To Move Truck

  1. Nothing to work out. Suspend the cop without pay for 30 days, 3 months next time & 3 strikes you’re out for good.

  2. Where the HP officer was busy arresting the fire fighter who had been busy saving the life of the driver, ultimately who saved that driver, Santa Clause? If the cop was in need of someone to move the truck, why didn’t the cop jump in and move it? That would seem simpler and more efficient than wasting time arresting the “life saver!” Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall of this upcoming meeting!

  3. I’d be really careful if I was the CHP, as there isn’t a little glass box on every patrol car, or motorcycle.

    Break Glass, follow instructions:
    deploying a Hurst Rescue Tool (Jaws of Life), and an inflatable trained crew of operators.

  4. Why does the officer with a CHP on his sholder claim was the problem with the fire truck protecting the ambulance and the crashed vehicle from more impacts?

  5. And that is why I can’t stand the police. They have been militarized to the point that they feel there only purpose is to make life miserable to there sworn enemy, the American people. No more Andy Griffiths , just Nazi Storm Troopers.
    I will respect the badge but in my heart I know these are degenerate, anti-freedom, unamerican, traitorous, criminals. I know if I report a crime there is a good chance I could be killed just so the pigs can have a scapegoat so I simply will not call them for ANY circumstance.
    Firefighters on the other hand are real heroes and thus despised by the evil scum sucking maggot police. I hope I am not to harsh for this post but that is exactly how I feel and untill I start seeing some of these oath violators go to prison my mind is not likely to change.
    Who voted for this new American police state? Is this the Change that was promised?

  6. Suspend him? No, he should be fired. Anyone with that little common sense and judgment should NOT be carrying a gun or have the power of arrest.

  7. This is not the first time this sort of clash has occurred. In May 2003 a firefighter was arrested while attending an injured patient. There are several more similar videos on YouTube. These events are the result of a combination of lack of training and authoritarian arrogance.

  8. This is an amazing story. How in the hell can this cop still be on the job?
    OS, your video just brings this story home. I submit that additional training won’t help this officer. The arrogance that you suggest is not something that can be “fixed” by training. How did that case turn out?

  9. I just want to add that it is common for the firefighters to park their pumper truck in such a way that it forms a protective “box” so the paramedics can work in relative safety. There is a psychological reason for this. Drivers going by want to see what is going on. Aviation psychologists refer to something called “target fixation.” This comes from the phenomenon of attack aircraft pilots becoming fixated on the target and flying right into whatever they are aiming at. The same think can, and does, happen with drivers. The video below is a perfect example of why the fire truck is parked where it is.

  10. This is a big story out here in San Diego. The firefighters story has now changed to the fire truck was protecting the ambulance from a possible collision w/ oncoming traffic. This was a classic male testosterone who is in charge. There is a protocol as to who calls the shots and the CHP was, like Nuke LaLouche, “Announcing his presence w/ authority.” Unfortunately, the CHP officer didn’t have a seasoned veteran like Crash Davis to calm him down.

  11. To interrupt firemen while in the middle of a potential life saving call to move their emergency vehicle is the epitome of unbridled sophomoric unprofessionalism.

    More training is not the answer.

    Those in positions of authority being held to account (eg firing) for their cretinous acts would be a good start.

    Nice job officer nitwit.

  12. I would like to see a photo of what the scene looked like first but on its face this is a huge can of worms.

    I cannot see a logical reason to arrest the firefighter. Regardless if the firefighter had parked illegally or whatever logic dictactes making a custodial arrest of one of the rescue personnel is going to detract from the rescue of the injured. If it was so imperative the fire truck be moved, why didn’t the CHP officer find another firefighter to move it? It sounds more like a face issue with the officer than anything.

    So what was the reason for moving the fire truck? Was it an extreme hazard or was it to ease the flow of traffic? I cannot see it being one unless some great exception is made. If people are rubbernecking and traffic is backed up for two miles too bad for the travelers.

    As Chuck mentions protecting the scene is paramount importance. The priorities that are usually trained are as follows:

    1) Arrive on-scene safely
    2) Assess threats
    3) protect yourself
    4) secure the scene
    5) Attend to the situation / injured.

    A secure scene is a must because there is always some fool out there who thinks they must drive through the scene. I have had many times this has happened. One in particular was a medivac situation with a patient and a helicopter. A city officer and I had blocked the scene with two patrol cars with emergency lights on. The helicopter was revving up preparing for liftoff and the wash was kicking small pebbles and dirt up. Then, this woman in her SUV squeezes through between the patrol cars and drives right past the front of the helicopter. After the copter left I pulled over the SUV and asked her why she drove through. Her reply was that Little Johnny needed to get to his soccer game and she didn’t want him to walk a long way.

    On another note arresting a firefighter at a scnene of an injury accident for not moving a truck is just plain asinine. Maybe the laws enabled the CHP to arrest the firefighter, common sense and discretion apparently went right out the window here. Ego is probably the reason but is certainly no excuse.

  13. If the person had died…. Who’d been liable….. I think the officer is way out of line…. Kinda like ticketing an ambulance for driving on a football field…. That happens in Texas…..

  14. As a former police officer AND a volunteer firefighter/paramedic for many years, this story is the worst example of misuse of authority I have even heard. The firefighter did everything exactly by the book that we have all been trained by. The chp officer abused his authority , endangered the accident victims well being, embarrassed the CHP, and left himself,CHP, the state of california wide open to all kinds of lawsuits for forcefull abandonment of a patient. He should be immediately relieved of duty !

    Paul W.

  15. Corrupt LEO and (rarely corrupt) Fire departments are almost natural born enemies. Their unions have too much clout when it comes to de Monet for
    salaries, pensions, bennies etc.

  16. Darren,
    You didn’t mention how close she came to the rotors, but if she had gotten her vehicle into the rotor disc it would have been truly ugly. Wonder if she knows what it costs to replace rotor blades, engine and transmission on a Jet Ranger. That is, if she and little Johnny had survived the blade strike.

    Just wondering, did you give her a ticket or arrest her for reckless endangerment?

  17. There was a case like this that arose many years ago in Ohio. My recollection of the case is that it was resolved in favor of the fire chief when the Ohio Attorney General determined (in a formal written opinion) that, under Ohio law, the chief of the voluntary township fire department responding to the crash was in command of the entire scene to rescue the occupants of the vehicle and extinguish the fire. The role of the Ohio State Highway Patrol in that case was subordinate to the commands of the fire chief and was strictly limited to providing traffic control to protect the firefighters so that they could handle the emergency.

  18. Odd, the person that flipped their car wasn’t arrested for not moving their vehicle and for blocking the road way… Just saying.

    Who protects the People from the police?

  19. “Who protects the People from the police?”

    ANSWER: no one. The money is in Curing/Solving etc. You know – lawyers.
    Even Professor Turley – if you can afford the ride.

  20. The police officer’s action was idiotic, but in the interest of accuracy:

    ”…the officer arrested a fire fighter who was struggling to help the seriously injured driver and other victims.
    Actually, no. The firefighter was standing by in case assistance was needed. But the victims had already been removed from the wreck and were being treated by medics prior to being placed in the ambulance.

    “…the fire fighter said that he was too busy saving the life of the driver.”
    No, he said nothing of the sort. He was not, himself, treating injured parties. He said that his truck was protecting the medicalpersonel who were treating the injured parties and that he was not going to move it and leave them exposed to hazard.

    ”He sat there while victims needed attention…”
    His being held in the police car did not deny medical attention to the victims.

  21. hope the chp trooper doesn’t get in an accident in the near future. i’m just sayin, ya know, sometimes it can take a little while to get to a accident scene. what with the traffic, trying to find a safe place to park, sometimes the gurney gets stuck. wouldn’t want to forget the equipment and have to walk all the way back to the truck. plus the gurney is kinda top heavy, sometimes it tips over.

    hey, i’m just sayin.

  22. Chuck

    Unfortunately there were a couple of elements missing. She was far enough away to avoid the wing of the helicopter, turning around it by about twenty feet or so but you could look at the pilot and he was not happy. It probably wouldn’t have held for a reckless endangerment at that state. If it was closer she would be done. No questions asked.

    As for the charge of Disobeying Law Enforcment Officer (which would have been the infraction to charge for running past a LEO. Our backs were turned watching the helicopter preparing to lift off and she snuck in. If I had seen her and motioned her to stop and she kept going she would have been cited. But, the elements didn’t fit here. Believe me I wish the elements had.

    Let’s just say Little Johnnie’s driver quickly learned the danger of her error. And after conversing with her in a most instructive manner, I knew she would not soon forget her lesson.

  23. In 2008 this happened, the firefighter Captain sued the cop, and the cop ended up having to pay $18,000….not the taxpayers, the cop personally.

  24. Seems to me that the huge firetruck there could have ‘accidentally’ backed up into the police car, or two.
    Amazing there isn’t any stronger response to this outrage.

  25. I think many people are COMPLETELY missing the point.

    Was there probable cause a crime committed?
    Was there probable cause that the firefighter was the person that committed it?

    NO ONE can restrain people willy-nilly no matter what costume they are wearing.

    There was no crime other than the false arrest, aggravated kidnapping and false imprisonment.

    The police have been lead to believe that the uniform and badge gives them the authority to cage people on any whim whatsoever.

    I guarantee there are more unlawful arrests than lawful ones happening every day.

  26. As a 30+ year medic I can say that I’ve clashed with law enforcement on-scene a half-dozen times, all over California. And while I was never arrested, I’m guessing I came pretty close once or twice.

    The fact is PD, medic & fire do not have the same priorities; they often see the scene dangers very differently, and this pretty much guarantees there will be clashes. The real shocker is that it doesn’t happen 10 times a day.

    The CHP know that every crash scene is the potential for more crashes as traffic backs up and people get impatient. The majority of CHP officers who die in the line of duty, die at crash scenes. So they want everything out of the way – now. They have no true patience for technical rescue.

    The positioning of the rescue apparatus protects the immediate scene, and protects the rescuers as they do their work. It also causes multiple freeway lane problems upstream, and you can bet that’s what the CHP was concerned about. Secondary crashes happen all the time.

    The patient was fortunate that his “advocate” on scene was a fire professional with a backbone. The largest ambulance provider in the nation – AMR – does not allow their medics to ever stand between the patient and PD, regardless of the issue. An AMR medic would have been fired for standing his ground.

    One of the biggest criticisms law enforcement has with the whole idea of advanced EMS is that we “set up camp” instead of just tossing people into the ambulance like they did in 1960. Modern field medicine is a major thorn in the side of a lot of people – from law enforcement to physicians.

    Chula Vista Fire could benefit by establishing a police officer /firefighter, mutual ride-along program, such as the one we set up 20 years ago in Merced County. Then both sides get to walk a mile in the other guys’ shoes, and cooler heads can prevail.

  27. Patric, Why the hell don’t you comment more here?? You are a GREAT commenter relating real world experience. My wife will bake you cookies.

  28. Nick –

    Hey, thanks for the words. I missed you too. First time I’ve been back to see what you fine people have been chatting about since last summer.

    I’m just finishing a book project that has monopolized most of the past year. Hopefully it’ll be done by the end of the month, and I can get caught up on the site once again.

  29. Bron, very complex question. 1963, no thought to crash survivability when designing cars. Most people die prior to the hospital, most likely still trapped in the car.

    1973, some thought, along with some traffic study determinations on changing the course of roadways. There’s a new concept of hydraulic rescue tools, being used off the racetrack. Most people die prior to the hospital. Most likely still trapped in the car.

    1983, the standardization of the EMT program has existed for half a decade. The conception of “The Golden Hour” meaning the time it takes for you to receive in-hospital level care is born.
    In some areas advanced EMT programs exist or are being started.
    The Hurst “Jaws of Life” and other competing brands are becoming more commonplace.
    Old post-and-cable guard rails are being replaced with Armco barrier technology.
    You stand a fair chance of making it to the hospital.

    1993, improvements to auto design, road design, road barriers lessens the splatter-factor. EMTs and advanced EMTs are more commonplace, as are improved pre-hospital care tools. The chance of being extricated in under 20 minutes from equipment arrival has improved. Your odds on making it to the hospital, alive have doubled in ten years.

    2003, air bags and the concept of the disposable car with impact absorbing zones, doubles your chances of surviving an accident. The “Jersey Barrier” replaces the Armco barrier in some locations. Still not infallible, and your worst case scenario remains vehicles meeting from opposite or intersecting directions.

    2013, “the air bag went off” is now defined by “all of them”? The ability to use hydraulic rescue tools is diminished, due to the presence of explosive cartridges in the door, roof supports, and dashboard areas. Unless you’re in a “smashed foil” wreck, you can probably walk, or be assisted away.

    In 1980 I had a .357 pulled on me by a police officer, when a young lady was hit by a passing car @ 55mph.
    She was crouched-down, looking for her keys, which she had dropped (under her car).
    Slightly intoxicated, wearing all black, save a silver bangle belt, the vehicle operator had no warning that she was 3 feet into his lane, nor was she facing oncoming traffic. She landed 107 feet from her shoes.
    Both shoes.
    With hundreds of fractures (determined by x-ray at autopsy) she died moments after arriving at the hospital. Fulfilling my first rule of trauma triage:
    no shoes = no expectations of life, one shoe = you stand a chance, both shoes = how was the ride?

    Back to our Civil Servant:
    The wild-eyed officer’s message: “She dies, you die.”
    He, not of that jurisdiction, was told by the local police officer (an EMT) to “stop being an ass”.
    We had heated words thereafter.
    For the next 8 years of his career, I’d see that gun out repeatedly.
    Knee-JERK response, instilled by poor training for moments of perceived danger to himself or the public.

    Intoxicated man standing in traffic? Pull your revolver.
    Woman delivering a baby on the third floor stairs? Pull your revolver.
    Psychotic episode in the mall? Pull your revolver.
    Suicide by train? Pull your revolver.
    With a change of Police Chief, his career was ended by “retirement”.

    How did he survive all the complaints? The old-fashioned way.
    Intimidate at gunpoint any witnesses; and tell your boss also your father-in-law, how bullshit these accusations are.

  30. I’m sickened by the irrelevant use of arrest authority based clearly on ego rather than a full understanding of emergency responder safety!

  31. Nick –

    The book should be out the first week of April. The title is, “The Pedigree of a Paramedic Heretic.”

    As for the material within, here is an example:

    You may recall 2 years ago when a fellow waded out into the freezing San Francisco Bay, intent on committing suicide. He stood out there in chin-deep water until he passed out and drowned. It took 52 minutes. During that time, 8 Alameda PD officers; 2 fire crews and a Paramedic team, along with about 45 others, watched the man die. Eventually a woman bystander got so frustrated she went out and pulled his body to the shoreline. Not one rescuer went into the water. Why? It was against Alameda Fire, Alameda PD and AMR Paramedic policy to perform a water rescue.

    The #1 priority on a rescue is ‘policy.’ #2 is team safety. #3 is safety of bystanders. The patient comes somewhere after that.

    It is as honest an assessment of the EMS business as I can muster.

    Thank you for asking.

  32. YF,
    You missed one level of triage regarding the shoes. Both shoes are still planted on the pavement, with feet still in them.

    High speed impact + coefficient of friction of tennis shoe soles on pavement ≥ tensile strength of ankle = dead before the body hits the ground X feet down the road.

    She was walking along a rural road, hand in hand with her husband of four days. Faulkner County Arkansas, 1960. He was untouched except for the bruise on his hand from when her 19-year-old hand was jerked from his hand. I saw her picture. She had been pretty, but the casket had to be closed.

    Not the only time I have seen that phenomenon, but that one has stayed with me.

  33. Yankee –

    Sounds like you’ve had a full career on the mean streets. I never had a cop pull a weapon on me, but I can think of a couple who maybe wanted to.

    Probably the stickiest cases out there for a medic is on an ‘officer-involved-shooting.’ The fellows in uniform can be real twitchy.

    I’ve come to the ugly conclusion that an awful lot of cop shenanigans mirror an awful lot of physician boners: I suspect many decent folks get into the business for the right reasons. I submit that the job itself distorts normal levels of behavior and empathy.

    And we read the results every single day.

  34. I just read these blog idiots responses and it’s pathetic how ignorant people truly are. To bring up race etc. because a firefighter was arrested for not moving a vehicle???? Seriously, I think the people comment like this are the obvious racist. How ignorant do you have to be to call every man with a shaved head a skin head. FYI genius, I guarantee there is more to the story than some rogue cop arresting a firefighter, but that would get near the response from you short tempered dimwits.
    I don’t even like cops but I like your ignorance even less.

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