Paramedics under fire for telling mother she couldn't afford ambulance bill for her daughter who later died

Four fire and rescue paramedics in Florida are under investigation after a mother said her daughter was refused a ride to the hospital after EMS workers complained saying she couldn’t afford the cost.

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On July 4, Nicole Black reportedly found her 30-year-old daughter Crystle Galloway unresponsive in a bathtub and she called 911. Black said Galloway had just had a baby six days earlier via C-section.

Black reported to the 911 operator that Galloway was “drooling from the mouth,” she told the Tampa Bay Times and EMS workers were dispatched.

But when Hillsborough County Fire Rescue workers arrived, Black said they delayed treatment and badgered them instead about if they would be able to afford the cost of the ambulance ride to the hospital.

“My daughter begged for her life,” Black told reporters. “The only thing they were worried about was my daughter had a new baby and she couldn’t afford an ambulance.”

Black said the medics did carry her daughter down flights of stairs but because of the on-going conversation about the cost of the ride, she decided instead to take her daughter to the hospital, Black told ABC Action News.

“The whole conversation as the EMS drivers put my child in my car was that [it] was best for us because we couldn’t afford an ambulance,” she told the news station. 

The Times reports that the ride to Brandon Regional Hospital—just three blocks away— would have cost $600.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, Lt. John “Mike” Morris is backing the workers and placing doubt that Galloway condition was an emergency when the workers arrived.

“If the daughter presented that she was critical,” Lt. Morris explained, “I’m certain our crew would have highly advised that the daughter be transported by EMS.”

Brains scans at the hospital revealed Galloway’s brain was bleeding. She was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital but fell into a coma and died July 9. Galloway was just days away from her 31st birthday.

According to the Times, paramedics claim Black volunteered to take her daughter to the hospital and that they were only asked to help move Galloway downstairs and the decision to transport was made by Black on her own.

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An investigation is underway to examine if medics engaged in any conversation about ambulance cost with Black, Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill told reporters during a press conference on Monday.

“There were discussions between the mother and the deputies concerning cost, primarily driven by questions from the mother, which may have led to her conclusion or statements that she wanted to transport her daughter,” Merrill said.

“My guys did a lot of things wrong here, and we take responsibility. From the record I have, that’s not one of the things they did wrong.”

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