Sue Fleming

The Freer Press

Grievance letters from three family members have been submitted to the City of Benavides alleging that Benavides EMS personnel refused to transport victims of a two-vehicle collision that occurred on March 10 to the hospital for treatment.

EMS director Leo Bazan verified the grievances have been received by the city and he said he could not comment.

Police reports show the accident occurred as Corina Perez was driving eastward on Highway 359 in a 2005 Ford pick-up and was broadsided at the intersection by a 1996 Chevrolet pickup driven by Alvin Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was cited for disregarding a stop sign (traffic light).

Two passengers riding with Perez included her 14-year-old niece, who was seated in the front, and Perez’s five-year-old daughter, seated in the back.

In the letter, Perez states she immediately got out of the truck to check her daughter who was still restrained.

Perez says EMT-I Clay Martin of the Benavides EMS arrived at the scene and asked if they were O.K.

“I told him my neck hurt but to please check on my daughter and my niece. I advised him that my daughter said her head hurt,” she wrote. “He asked her (daughter) several times if she was wearing her seat belt and never examined her.”

Perez said she asked Martin to transport her daughter to the hospital but he refused, saying there was nothing wrong with her daughter.

When a friend of Perez’ s arrived shortly afterward, the friend also told Martin that the child needed to be taken to the hospital in which Martin responded, “Can’t you see nothing is wrong with her. She has no obvious injuries and we don’t transport people to the hospital if they are not hurt,” Perez wrote in her letter to the city.

Perez stated, “He then left and never even checked on my niece or assessed me.”

She says the medics did not ask for her name or address and that she did not sign a refusal of transport nor was she asked to.

“If they had asked me, I wouldn’t have signed it because I wanted my daughter transported to the hospital,” Perez wrote.

She says that she and the girls were transported later to the hospital by her husband and sister-in-law to be examined.

“The quality of care my daughter received was uncalled for. I can’t believe they would ignore the other occupants in the vehicle, too. Why didn’t the medics do their job?” she asks.

Another grievance letter filed by Diana Munoz, the mother of the 14 year old, states she too is disappointed the EMS did not check her daughter who complained of experiencing lower back pain.

Munoz says she traveled from Premont to the scene of the accident to find her daughter still strapped into her seat belt.

“I asked if the EMS had arrived and she told me that they had been there, but didn’t even attempt to see her,” Munoz wrote. “I spoke to the police officer and he said that the EMS had been present and that everyone was O.K. I don’t know how he could of said that if medics didn’t even check everyone in the vehicle. He (officer) did inform us that it would be best to take her and the other passenger to the hospital to be checked.”

Munoz said she addressed the question to the EMS director as to why her daughter wasn’t checked.

“He told me that my daughter was a minor and her guardian wasn’t present at the time. No one even asked my daughter what her name was, much less ask her if the driver was her mom or guardian. All anyone had to do was call me to get consent to check my daughter. Isn’t it the paramedics job to inform the parent when a minor has been in an accident? This was negligence and abandonment on the EMS’ part,” Munoz wrote.

Mary Saenz of Benavides, sister-in-law of Perez, also filed a grievance speaking of the lack of care her family members received from the local EMS following the accident, and also included claims of being approached by others who have had various complaints regarding the Benavides EMS.

“I have been employed in EMS almost 10 years and I have never heard of anyone asking to be transported to the ER getting refused,” Saenz said in the letter. “This is unethical of the medics. Where is the standard of care that is expected?”

She also states numerous times people have told her the medics talk patients out of being transported to the hospital, that they would have to wait a very long time in the waiting room.

“People that are sick don’t want to hear that and decide not to go to the ER,” she said.

Saenz also alleges that when she was aiding the Benavides EMS in the past, she found Martin driving when, as being the higher certified medic, he should be attending a critical patient in the back of the ambulance. This leaves the city liable for his actions, she states.

Communication is another problem, she says.

“The community is not being notified in writing 24 hours in advance that the ambulance service will be shut down due to staffing problems. Dispatchers are not aware most of the time when the service is shut down for the day, leaving them trying to call, losing valuable time,” Saenz wrote.

Saenz concluded asking that the city give the matter some consideration, stating the EMS needs a lot of help and the community deserves better.

Perez, Munoz and Saenz have requested to address the Benavides City Council concerning these issues during the April monthly meeting.