Emergency workers nearly punished for helping dog

WAVERLY, Ohio — Two emergency-medical technicians who faced disciplinary actions Monday for helping a dog injured in a fatal wreck ultimately weren't punished because of a technicality.

Pike County commissioners decided not to discipline Nick Farmer and Tyler Wessel and instead requested that a policy be created. The men had been placed on paid leave after taking a dog to a Portsmouth, Ohio, animal clinic when it was seriously injured in a Wednesday crash.

"My hope was the dog would make it, and the family would have something," said Farmer, a part-time paramedic and a dog owner himself.

Farmer and Wessel had been first on the scene of a crash in which a pickup truck driver made a left turn into the path of a tractor-trailer traveling east on Ohio 32 near Beaver, Ohio, about 100 miles east of Cincinnati, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol. Pickup driver James Smith, 68, of Beaver was killed on impact.

After treating the tractor-trailer driver, Anthony Knell, 28, of Vanceburg, Ky., and getting him into a medical helicopter, Farmer said they discovered a dog trapped under the pedals of Smith's truck.

Farmer was able to remove the dog, which was struggling to breathe and had two broken legs. After giving it some oxygen and splinting the legs, Farmer said he asked for permission to take the dog, which he described as a dachshund mix, to Shawnee Animal Clinic in Portsmouth, about 20 miles away in the next county; a veterinarian in Waverly was about 15 miles away.

After getting permission from the Pike County Emergency Medical Service chief, Farmer said they got another call from a secretary about 9 minutes later saying no protocol was in place. However, he never was told he couldn't continue the transport.

When he and Wessel returned to the station, EMS Director Kevin Jenkins suspended them. Although upset with his boss' action, Farmer said he never doubted his own decision.

"We done it just because it was the right thing to do," Farmer said. "We're not trained to not do something."

Afterward, Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader said he will work with Jenkins, the president of the firefighters association, the dog warden and Pike Pet Pals to establish a procedure for future situations where animals — including police K9s — are injured or in need of treatment at an accident or crime scene.

"I hope they take my suggestion to heart that we need a board of employees to help make, approve and disapprove policies," Farmer said.

On Wednesday after the rescuers left, the veterinarian discovered that the dog, whose name was not released, had a broken back in addition to its leg and chest injuries. So the decision was made to euthanize the animal.

But Farmer said he knows he did what he could to help alleviate its suffering.

Follow Jona Ison on Twitter: @jonaison

Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette


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