Former EMT says she was forced to choose between job and safety

MUNCIE, Ind. -- A former EMT said she is out of a job after prioritizing her safety over her employment.

Kindsey Swim said she quit after getting a call to help a patient she said injured her. The company who employed her said it's part of the job and the risks that come with it.

Swim said last Monday what started as a normal run working out of the Muncie station for Heartland Ambulance Service left her traumatized.

"It just out of the blue," she said.

Swim said she was hit while doing a regular transport in Carmel to take a patient with Down syndrome to dialysis.

"After about that she hit the door pretty hard with the right side of her head," said Jacob Hamm, the driver and Swim's boyfriend.

Swim said she was left with a concussion. But just a few days later after she was back at work with doctor's clearance, Swim said she was tasked with another run with the same patient.

"I was terrified to think that I would have to transport him," she said.

Swim said dispatchers refused to transfer the call to other crews willing to take it, so she chose to walk away.

"I chose to protect myself and I felt like I had no choice," she said.

Heartland Ambulance Service said no other crews were available and that they didn't purposefully put her on that call. The policy, though, is if you refuse a call you've quit the job.

"This is not violence in EMS this is us taking care of a handicap person who does not have the same mentality as us," company president Kenneth Jackson said.

This is far from the first time an emergency responder has been hurt on the job.

"Healthcare in general is a big risk for hostile workplace and injuries from patients," Swim said.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said in 2014 there were more than 21,000 EMS workers treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries or illness.

"The truth is that we've been facing these kind of dangers in the field for a very long time now," Nathaniel Metz, president of the Indiana EMS Association, said.

Metz said more training on how to de-escalate and handle violent situations is needed.

"The more attention that's brought to it the more that some key stakeholders can help educate and prepare providers in the field to handle these circumstances," Metz said.

Jackson said the company does offer crisis prevention intervention classes.

Swim said the patient's family and caretaker apologized through a former co-worker.

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