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Hospital, Paramedics Review Policies After Ambulance Theft

April 23, 2008
Hospital, paramedics review policies after ambulance theft By Pierrette J. Shields Longmont Times-Call LONGMONT — Weld County deputies looked in on Micky Stevenson Terry at a Del Camino motel Tuesday morning after receiving a tip that he was suicidal. They left the motel later that morning, satisfied that he was OK, according to Margie Martinez of the Weld County Sheriff’s Office. Paramedics ultimately took him to a Lafayette hospital, she said. By 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Terry was arrested in Longmont on suspicion of stealing an ambulance from a Lafayette hospital, and leading police on a high-speed chase ending in a wreck. Between the first contact with deputies on Tuesday morning and his arrest on Tuesday afternoon, Terry’s journey wound from Del Camino to Lafayette to Longmont and put him in contact with law enforcement, paramedics, doctors, and security officers. On Wednesday, hospital and Pridemark Paramedic Services officials were reviewing their policies and procedures to try to determine what, if anything, could have prevented Terry from stealing the vehicle from Exempla Good Samaritan Hospital in Lafayette. “We are in the process of (a review) now,” said Sharon Burnette, spokeswoman for the hospital. “Anytime we have anything kind of unusual, any kind of variation in care, we investigate it. ... It is looking at all of the contributing factors.” Terry spent the night under police guard at Longmont United Hospital, where he was treated for injuries from the crash. On Wednesday, he was transferred to the Boulder County Jail, where he was on placed suicide watch. He is scheduled for a first appearance in Boulder County court this afternoon. Citing patient confidentiality rules, Burnette said she couldn’t comment specifically about the medical issues Terry faced. However, she said all patients are evaluated to determine if they are a threat to themselves or others. She said he was discharged at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. “We escorted him technically off of our property, the security guards did,” she said, noting the guards pointed him to bus services. She said he wondered if anyone would pick him up. Burnette said officials believe Terry, who was without a car, began asking people in the parking lot at the hospital where he was in relation to Grand Junction and made his way back to the ambulance bay, where he apparently discovered an ambulance unlocked with the keys inside. “Because of what happened, we are looking at the whole case of this individual,” Burnette said. Hospital officials plan to work with ambulance services to identify anything the hospital can do to improve security at the ambulance bay. Mike Donner, president and CEO of Pridemark Paramedic Services, said his paramedics were in the hospital with another patient when the ambulance was taken. They returned to the parking area just in time to watch Terry drive away, he said. “It is something that could happen to anybody,” Donner said. “Obviously, we could have done a better job of securing the vehicle.” He declined to say whether the ambulance crew is facing any disciplinary action. “It is an unfortunate incident and we’re not happy about it, obviously, but we’re really happy it wasn’t any worse than it was,” Donner said. Lafayette police, Colorado State Patrol troopers, and Boulder County deputies chased the stolen ambulance — which had lights and sirens blaring — north on 95th Street, which turns in Hover Street in Longmont. Longmont police raced to the city’s boundaries to try to set out “stop sticks,” which are used to flatten the tires of fleeing vehicles, according to Sgt. Tim Lewis of the Longmont Police Department. Longmont police declined to join the pursuit, but tried to stop the ambulance, and failing that, clear traffic in its path, he said. A detective in an unmarked police car made it to Hover Street and Pike Road and cleared traffic for the ambulance, but did not have stop sticks because they are not standard equipment in unmarked cars, Lewis said Wednesday. The ambulance nearly struck the detective as it sped by, he said. The ambulance turned east on Ken Pratt Boulevard, weaving through traffic, and crashed near the intersection with Sunset Street. The ambulance struck a Subaru and ripped off the rear bumper, but no one was hurt during the chase. Terry also has an open domestic-violence assault case in Mesa County from an April 5 arrest. According to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Terry was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault and criminal mischief after deputies were called to a Gateway home on a report of a domestic violence fight. Terry, whose permanent address is listed in Montana, was released from jail on a $1,000 bond and was due back in Mesa County Court in Grand Junction on May 2 for a status conference in the misdemeanor case. Pierrette J. Shields can be reached at 303-684-5273 or pshields@times-call.com.