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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. PatricParamedic:

    what are the stats on crash survivability now vs 20 to 50 years ago?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. “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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

  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. 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.

  17. 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…..

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