A state health official said Tuesday he is watching with anxiety as a confrontation between a state trooper and an emergency medical technician continues to be disputed in the media. "I don’t want people to think this is normal behavior. The Highway Patrol and EMS have always operated seamlessly, usually with no air between them,” said Shawn Rogers, director of emergency medical services for the state Health Department. Creek Nation EMT Maurice White Jr. appeared on national television Tuesday and called for Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Daniel Martin to be stripped of his badge and gun. "As the video clearly shows, he was told emphatically that we had a patient that needed to get to the hospital,” White told Maggie Rodriguez during CBS’s "The Early Show.” Martin is on paid administrative leave following a May 24 altercation in which he is caught on tape choking White during a traffic stop. In the video, White resists Martin’s command that he is under arrest and tells the trooper he has a patient on board.
What the law saysOver the past three weeks, many have dissected the actions of Martin and White, based on two videos of the altercation and official reports. Yet there is another facet to the story outlined by the state’s Emergency Medical Services Statutes and Regulations. The law states, "Authorized emergency vehicles of licensed ambulance services shall comply, at all times, with the applicable requirements of Title 47, the Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Code.” Martin was within the law for stopping the Creek Nation ambulance for its failure to yield to his lights and sirens. On the video, White informs Martin there is a patient in the ambulance. Yet Martin insists on talking with the driver, Paul Franks, which appears to enflame White — the EMT in charge. "The EMT in charge is ultimately responsible for a patient,” said Rogers, adding that his agency can suspend or terminate an EMT’s license if a patient isn’t cared for properly. "I find it really unusual for that trooper not to defer to the ambulance mission — highly unusual.” Another point of contention has been the fact the ambulance wasn’t operating its lights and sirens, leaving Martin’s defense attorney, Gary James, to question the urgency of the transport. "You can have a patient being treated emergent and have lights off,” Rogers said. "Happens all the time with heart attacks, when you’re trying not to increase the patient’s anxiety level by running lights and sirens. "You’re instead trying to keep the patient calm.” Stella Jordan, the patient, has a history of heart problems and had blacked out after experiencing chest pains, according to White’s attorney, Richard O’Carroll. Jordan was treated and released. Contributing: Manny Gamallo, Tulsa World