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Two Emergency Medical Technicians responding to a deadly auto accident were suspended from duty after the pair provided emergency medical care to a dog injured in the crash.
EMTs Nick Farmer and Tyler Wessel were first on the scene of a crash in which a pickup truck driver made a left turn into the path of a semi-truck 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 semi-truck driver and seeing him into a medical helicopter, Farmer and Wessel discovered a small dog trapped beneath the pedals in the pickup truck. Farmer, a dog owner himself, said the dog was seriously injured and struggling to breathe. He was able to free her from the vehicle and moved her into the ambulance where the pair fashioned a makeshift oxygen mask for her and put homemade splints on her broken legs.
“I engineered some splints from cardboard, and seeing it was a wiener dog, I just broke off the pieces and wrapped them around the dog’s wounded legs” Farmer explained to KHOU.
Farmer 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, unaware that a veterinarian in Waverly, the county in which they worked, was about 15 miles away.
Although they got permission from the Pike County Emergency Medical Service chief to take the dog to Portsmouth, they received a call several minutes later from a secretary saying there was no protocol in place. But, they were not given instructions to stop the transport.
When Farmer and Wessel returned to the station, they were suspended by EMS Director, Kevin Jenkins.
Still the compassionate EMTs never doubted their decision to help the dog.
At a Monday meeting, Pike County Commissioners met with the EMS director Kevin Jenkins, who had called for an investigation into the men’s actions.
“I want animals taken care of, but the EMS, their object is to take care of the people in the county and not animals,” said commissioner Fred Foster.
Following private discussions, Farmer and Wessel were reinstated to work and will not face additional disciplinary action. House Bill 187 was enacted last August which grants EMTs permission to care for dogs and cats after all humans are taken care of. However, Farmer and Wessel were not permitted to leave the county as they did.
Following the events, 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.
Although Farmer and Wessel feared they might lose their jobs, both say they would do it again.
“We done it just because it was the right thing to do,” Farmer said. “We’re not trained to not do something.”
Sadly, Mabel, the dachshund Farmer and Wessel risked their jobs to help, did not survive her serious injuries which included a broken back. She was buried along with her owner who died in the crash.