Detroit paramedic: I'm being punished for giving man a blanket - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Detroit paramedic: I'm being punished for giving a cold man a blanket

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By Charlie LeDuff
FOX 2 News Reporter


DETROIT -- A Detroit paramedic says he is in trouble for breaking the rules.  His offense?  Giving a cold man a blanket.

Top brass tell us employees must have permission to hand out "department property",  but that blanket was one of many donated to the department to help people in need.

Ladies and gentlemen, this might be the most ridiculous and bone-headed Detroit ambulance story yet.  It started two weeks ago when a house caught on fire.  An old cripple man lived inside.  They brought him outside.  He was in his underwear.  It was cold.  He was shivering.  You give him a blanket, right?  Right.  Then guess what happened?

"I'm being punished for giving a man a blanket," said paramedic Jeff Gaglio.

He called in sick Wednesday, sick to his stomach after being punished for giving away city-owned property.

"Yesterday I got notified that I'll be brought up on EMS departmental charges," Gaglio said.

What's that mean?

"I'm being punished.  I'm being punished for giving a man a blanket, something that would seem like a common, every day courtesy.  Something that any man or woman would do in the City of Detroit, give a freezing man a blanket.  I'm being punished for it."

Who's punishing him?

"The chief of EMS Jerald James."

You know what makes this story even more outrageous?  The city didn't even pay for the blankets.  Matt Cahillane, president of Firefighter Support Services, donated them.

"Anybody who's been displaced by a fire, that's what they're for," he said.

Does he mind people having to keep the blankets?

"I think that's what they're for."

I tried calling Chief James and left a message saying, "It's LeDuff.  I'm downstairs.  I'd like to know why you're suspending paramedics for putting blankets on old cripple people. Can you give me a call, come down here and talk?"

So we waited and waited and waited some more and finally, a couple hours later, we got our explanation.

"We can't have an employee who feels that they have a right to give away state property, be it donated, be it a blanket, be it a tire off a vehicle, without getting prior approval from somebody or notifying the proper authority.  This is what he did," James said by phone.

That's right, paramedic, you'll need to get permission to give that feeble, half-naked old man a donated blanket because they're needed in the paint room for drop clothes.

"These are the important issues.  Donated blankets are the important issue, not the broken-down ambulances, not the bad response time, not the people dying that can't get an ambulance, not the closing of EMS units in the city, blankets," said Gaglio.

So let's review.  We're going to let old cripple guys shiver to death.  We're going to take much needed paramedics off the street.  I think what the fire department should do is point those hoses right at headquarters and clean the whole joint out.

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