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Lawsuit filed against Smithsburg EMS

April 18, 2007|By KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

The wife and fiance of a pregnant woman who died, along with her unborn child, while an ambulance company chief and a dispatcher made jokes have filed a lawsuit in Washington County Circuit Court charging Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services Inc. with the victims' deaths.

Washington County Attorney John M. Martirano said Tuesday the county received notification Monday that it is named as a defendant in the lawsuit against the ambulance company.

Tammy Reed and Danny A. Gibson also are suing the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association Inc., former ambulance chief Jason Tracey, medics Karin Nicol and James Ulrich, and dispatcher Robert Myerly for $4 million in the deaths of Christina Lynn Hess, 20, and the baby she was carrying.

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The 23-count complaint, which was filed March 2, alleges that bitterness over a dispute between the ambulance company and Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co., where Hess and Gibson were volunteers, resulted in the March 5, 2003, deaths of Hess and her son from pregnancy complications.

In a taped telephone call, Myerly told Nicol, who asked for extra help to treat Hess, that Tracey would not help "because of the fire company."

A man who answered the phone at the Hagerstown home that court documents list as Myerly's said that Myerly does not live there.

Ulrich did not return messages left at the home that court documents list as his residence.

Numbers for Nicol and Tracey are not listed in the phone book.

Smithsburg Assistant Chief Jon Snyder referred questions to Chief Rob Snider, who he said would not be at the station until Thursday.

A woman at the office of attorney Steven Migdal, who is representing the fire and rescue association, said Wednesday that he would not be available until Friday.

The complaint alleges that Nicol and Ulrich responded to 2 Maple Ave., just three doors from the ambulance company, nine minutes after Gibson called requesting help for Hess, who was having seizures. The medics spent 14 to 19 minutes at the home, unsuccessfully trying to intubate Hess, before taking her to Washington County Hospital, where both she and her son were declared dead, according to the complaint.

Hess had eclampsia, a life-threatening pregnancy complication, but her condition did not spur the appropriate level of response, the complaint alleges.

"Karin Nicol and James Ulrich failed to immediately transport Decedents to Washington County Hospital and to oxygenate them on the way," the complaint says.

A suction machine did not work, the complaint says.

The defendants, the complaint alleges, "... created a risk of harm to decedent that was extreme and outrageous, which no reasonable provider of emergency medical services in a similar situation would ever have done, resulting in her death and that of her viable infant."

A man who identified himself as Reed's son after answering the phone Tuesday at her Misty Meadow Road home in Smithsburg said neither he nor she wanted to comment about the case.

A number for Gibson is not listed. He has a Rohrersville Post Office box.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants slandered both Hess and Gibson because of their work at the fire department and violated the victims' rights to privacy and appropriate treatment.

In taped comments that the lawsuit says the defendants should have known "would be highly offensive to a reasonable person," Tracey and Mylerly allegedly mocked Gibson's calls for help.

After apparently learning Hess had died, Tracey expressed no remorse.

"I mean, you know listen, they get what they deserve. Mother, child, son, daughter, brother, sister - they got what they deserved. The hell with them, I hate to be a cold bastard like that, but you know they're out to screw me and sometimes it comes back," Tracey said, according to a tape of the conversation.

A Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher said Myerly no longer is a dispatcher.

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