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Fire Department Changes Policy, Two More Officers On Leave

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Posted at 5:56 PM, Aug 14, 2014
and last updated 2015-09-07 14:27:32-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Two additional Nashville firefighters have been placed on administrative leave and the department is changing its protocol after a NewsChannel 5 Investigation.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates first revealed that an ambulance left a gunshot victim at his home after it was determined he could not survive.

Police later called the ambulance back. It finally took the patient to the hospital more than two hours after the initial 911 call. 

A total of eight firefighters are on now on leave.

The patient, who shot himself in the head, has since died from his injuries. But when the ambulance left the scene without him yesterday morning, he was still breathing.

For a second day the Metro fire chief and the department's medical director did damage control. They answered questions about why a man who was still breathing was essentially declared dead, and left to die.

"I want to stress to all Nashvillians once again, everybody in this community, if there are signs of life we are going to protect you," Fire Chief Ricky White said.

Chief White and Fire Department Medical Director Corey Slovis sat down exclusively with NewsChannel 5 Investigates on Wednesday.

They admitted the patient should have been transported to the hospital.

It started when EMS crews called a Vanderbilt doctor.

The doctor determined the patient would not survive.

EMS crews wrote on their report "injuries not compatible with life" and left the scene.

But police still on the scene called them back, more than an hour later, when they realized the victim was still breathing.

"This was a mistake made by good people trying to do a good job, but a mistake none the less," Dr. Slovis said yesterday.

Thursday, he promised to clarify the department's rules about when it takes people to the hospital.

The changes will include new lines of text in the policy that state if the patient shows any signs of life -- like breathing, pulse or movement -- he should be taken to the hospital.

"It needs minor revision," Dr. Slovis said of the current policy. "So that there is no possible misinterpretation of the protocol."

The chief put two additional firefighters on leave while the department investigates what happened.

Vanderbilt issued a statement, saying it is reviewing why the doctor told EMS crews not to transport the patient.

The two additional firefighters put on leave were on the fire truck that responded.

The chief wants to finish this investigation as soon as possible.

There are also questions about why the Vanderbilt doctor told EMS not to transport.

Previous Story: 6 Firefighters On Leave After Man Mistakenly Declared Dead