Memphis fire chief describes errors in Tire Nichols’ response

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) – The Memphis Fire Department chief said Tuesday that firefighters were not notified they were responding to a serious injury when they arrived at the scene of a pepper spray incident on the 7 January.

But once paramedics found Tire Nichols seriously injured and leaning against a police vehicle, they failed to follow policies and procedures to render assistance, and that’s why they are no longer part of the department. , Chief Gina Sweat told members of the Memphis City Council.

“They should have done a more thorough assessment when they were at the scene,” she said.

Tire Nichols Videos Show What Happened During Fatal Memphis Traffic Stop

Sweat told the Memphis City Council that paramedics at the scene that night were initially told they were responding to a pepper spray incident, not a serious injury.

Sweat described it as a “pretty routine” call and said MFD had responded to 140 pepper spray calls in the past six months. No one communicated to the dispatcher that the call needed to be upgraded.

“Once they got to the scene, they didn’t have the video to watch to find out what happened before they got there, so they were reacting to what they saw, what they were told at the scene. “Sweat said. “Obviously they haven’t performed at the level that we expect or at the level that the citizens of Memphis deserve.”

Officials said employees who responded to Tire Nichols on Jan. 7 were placed in a remedial training program soon after the incident.

But Sweat said she didn’t see the video of the Jan. 7 call that resulted in Nichols’ death until it was made public 20 days later.

Emergency Medical Services Chief Angie Sullivan, along with firefighters, viewed the videos two days before the city of Memphis’ Friday, Jan. 27, public release. Sullivan said even without seeing the video, other protocols were put in place and the firefighters involved were removed from the field.

“Whenever there is a significant incident, we do a quick review, we pull the documentation and do a quick review of the protocols to make sure they were followed. We did it like in this case and have immediately placed staff on correction just as a precaution to make sure the proficiency level was met,” Sullivan said.

“Because we couldn’t use it in their administrative actions, so when it was released on Friday, we had already scheduled their administrative hearings on Monday. That was the first day it could have been done,” Sweat said.

Three fire department employees – two paramedics and a lieutenant – were fired from the department the following Monday after the videos emerged.

The Memphis Fire Department has 1,623 firefighters and 150 civilians, 45% of whom are African American.

Sweat said the department is reviewing policies to ensure all MFD staff know what they are responsible for and are held accountable. The chief said she’s also been in communication with Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis to make things better when departments communicate in the field.

“It starts with us, it starts with me,” she said.


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