Five EMT Suspensions Related to Death of Millville Man who was Restrained Face-down on Stretcher

Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 9:15 pm | Updated: 11:28 pm, Wed Dec 22, 2010. By THOMAS BARLAS, Staff Writer The state Department of Health and Senior Services suspended five emergency medical technicians – including three from the Millville Rescue Squad – relating to a July 31 emergency call in which a 27-year-old Millville man died. Department officials said the five EMTs violated state law by allowing 27-year-old Michael Anthony Burris to be left face-down on a stretcher while in restraints. The department was contacted by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office after an autopsy revealed Burris died of “positional asphyxiation,” state officials said. The ruling does not mean the EMTs committed a criminal act, they said. However, the state suspended the certifications for Millville Rescue Squad EMTs Charles Bennett Jr., Eric Stormes and Karen Moreno. The certifications for Underwood-Memorial Hospital paramedics Robert Smith and Troy Payeur were also suspended. The five can appeal the suspension. Burris was treated at a home on East Broad Street in Millville after falling and hitting his head. According to the letters sent by the state to the five EMTs, a combative Burris was “placed, in restraints, (face down) on the portable litter, carried down a flight of stairs, placed on a wheeled stretcher, and moved to the waiting ambulance. Upon placing the patient in the ambulance it was discovered that the patient had suffered cardiac arrest.” The letters state that New Jersey law requires that any patient “placed in any type of restraint shall be closely monitored to ensure that his or her airway is not compromised in any way. In no circumstance shall a patient be placed (face-down) on a stretcher while in restraints.” Department officials said they would have no further comment.

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