RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The City of Reno issued a statement on Friday following a News 4 On Your Side investigation that revealed the Reno Fire Department refused to respond to a call to lift a patient.
Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger issued the following statement:
"Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez has assured me the Reno Fire Department's response to future incidents of this nature will not be handed in the manner as the June 17th incident. Some of the actions taken by the Reno Fire Department on June 17th were unacceptable. The Reno Fire Department will continue to provide assistance to the Reno Police Department, REMSA and/or any other agency requesting assistance during a medical emergency."
News 4's On Your Side investigation revealed fire personnel refused to respond to a call to lift a patient. The heavy set man was inside a boat being pulled by a trailer. The incident happened on Lemmon Drive in Lemmon Valley.
Documents News 4 obtained show 30 minutes after Reno Police and REMSA asked for help, the Reno Fire Department had not arrived to the scene. A report indicates Reno Fire canceled their response and requested REMSA's bariatric unit respond. However, Reno Police were never informed. When no one showed up, officers called Reno Fire again.
Nearly 45 minutes after the initial call, a Reno Battalion Chief arrived on the scene to assess the situation. He decided his crews were not available and blocked other fire departments from helping by not making a mutual assistance call.
Evenutally the man was lifted from the boat to the ambulance, but it was Reno police officers and REMSA medics who did the lifting. While they worked, the Battalion Chief reportedly took pictures of the ordeal.
The man was eventually transported to the hospital, but the delay was 1 hour and 37 minutes. News 4 learned the man was admitted to the hospital suffering from pulminary edema, which is a build-up of fluid in the lungs.
Earlier this week, Reno Fire officials blamed a new lift assist policy. They said firefighters were getting injured in lifting patients and REMSA was not reimbursing for the injuries.
Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez spoke with News 4 after the statement was issued. "We immediately implemented some changes to our policies and we feel that as a result of the actions of the Lemmon Valley incident, we have a better process and we're going to work with the community, improving our communications with not only REMSA but also the Reno Fire Department."
He explained there would be one fundamental change in the policy. "I think the fundamental common denominator of the policy is if someone calls for assistance, we're going to help. If it does not meet our criteria, we're going to look at it and correct it on the backside and not refuse lifting anybody or patients."
As for any disciplinary action, Chief Hernandez said, "We're looking at the actions of the Battalion Chiefs in totality. Once we complete our internal investigation, we'll make that determination. We're in the middle of that investigation right now so we really can't comment on anything further."