Oklahoma Firefighter Disciplined For Driving Burn Victim to Hospital Instead of Waiting 20 Minutes for Ambulance

The Oklahoma City Fire Department is facing criticism among its ranks and within the community after a firefighter was punished for driving a young burn victim to the hospital on Christmas Eve rather than waiting 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive as required by department policy.

Major Corey Britt was relieved of his role as senior company officer at Station 34 in Oklahoma City, according to the NBC-affiliated KFOR channel citing firefighters with knowledge of the situation.

Fire Chief Richard Kelley told reporters: "We don't transport patients," in response to questions about the disciplinary hearing, which took place at Oklahoma City Fire Department headquarters earlier this week. "That's not our job."

Kelley said Britt, who has worked as a firefighter for 25 years, will keep his same rank and pay but will face "internal corrective measures."

The department acted on a complaint from EMSA, the emergency service that sent the ambulance Britt refused to wait for on Christmas Eve. Emergency services were dispatched on a medical call involving 3-year-old Quinn Amme, who had suffered second-degree burns on her lower body.

Britt arrived on the scene at 7:13 p.m. and soon requested that EMSA upgrade the call from a Priority 2 to a Priority 1, which it did. Britt asked for an update from EMSA at 7:22 p.m., and was told that the ambulance had been on the road for four minutes. At 7:30 p.m. Britt told EMSA to cancel the ambulance and drove the girl to hospital himself.

The fire department said the tracker on the EMSA ambulance showed it was less than half a mile from the scene when Britt cancelled the unit, KFOR reported.

Deputy Chief Mike Walker explained: "Most of the times, those calls are excellent, but if you miss the mark, we talk about it and correct it as necessary."

But family members of the toddler and unnamed colleagues of Britt challenged the decision to discipline the fire fighting veteran, telling KFOR they backed the decision to transport the injured girl himself.

Mother Kristin Amme said: "I appreciate every decision he made when the system failed us." She added that Britt "made a decision not only as a first responder and a firefighter, but as a father and a fellow Oklahoman...He made the best choice for the care of his patient."

Firefighters who did not wish to be named told KFOR: "None of the firefighters feel like this is fair. Yes, we know he broke policy, but he was only trying to help the child."

Like many other areas, Oklahoma City has experienced recurring ambulance delays as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Asked whether this may have been a factor in Britt's decision, Walker replied: "It could. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the officer's state of mind, but on the other side, we are trained to deal with these emergencies."

The Oklahoma City Professional Fire Fighters Association issued a statement saying it "stood in full support" of Britt during the investigation. OKC Firefighters Local 157 President Cameron Weems said: "

Cameron Weems, the president of OKC Firefighters Local 157, released the following statement to KFOR Friday night: "While his actions would not be considered routine, Major Corey Britt gave to the department the reasoning behind his decision."

"Unfortunately, obstacles arising from both COVID-19 and staffing on transport vehicles has caused issues with longer-than-normal wait times for patients on scene of an emergency," Weems said.

"Going forward, this Local looks forward to productive conversations with all parties involved to find remedies to this issue. In doing so we will be able to avoid putting our personnel in the unenviable position of trying to provide quality care while also being unsure when additional assistance will arrive in the form of a transport unit."

NYC fire engine pictured amid coronavirus pandemic
This file photo shows a member of the New York City Fire Department in front of a fire engine on April 15, 2020 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images/Getty