A Washington, D.C., woman who believed she was having a stroke called 911 but ended up getting out of an ambulance and taking the subway to a hospital after the paramedics wouldn't stop arguing with each other, NBC 4 Washington reports.
Rose Preston told the news station that she became worried March 15 when she began experiencing numbness and tingling on the left side of her face around 2:15 a.m. She called 911, but once she was inside the ambulance, she became uncomfortable as two members of D.C. Fire and EMS began having a heated argument.
"They were constantly bickering back and forth with one another, and to the point that I felt so uncomfortable," she told the news station.
Preston, an Army veteran, had no idea why the two men were arguing but told NBC 4 that she believed it was personal.
"I didn't feel safe being transported by the vehicle," said Preston. After receiving some oxygen, she felt a little better and decided to get out of the ambulance before they began driving.
Sources familiar with the incident say Paramedic Engine 27 responded from the Deanwood neighborhood in Northeast, D.C., as well as Ambulance 19 from Southeast.
Chief Kenneth Ellerbe said in a March 18 memo that her partner asked where was the Engine 27 medic.
"Someone went and got him and my partner asked him if he was going to check out the [patient] due to the nature of the dispatch," he wrote. "Medic started to assess the [patient] and he and my partner got into a verbal altercation about why it was needed for someone to get him."
According to Ellerbe's memo, the patient said the argument was completely unprofessional, and she did not want to go to the hospital anymore, the news station reports.
When Preston left the vehicle, she said the paramedics didn't seem to care and never asked her to sign a patient refusal, which is standard.
"A total lack of professionalism in every way you can imagine," she told the news station.
The firefighter said in the memo that Preston received an apology and was advised that she should still go to the hospital. Later that day Preston took the Metro to a VA hospital.
She was not having a stroke but learned that she was suffering from Bell's palsy, which requires immediate medical care.
"It really complicated my condition by not being able to receive adequate medical attention when I called," she told NBC 4.
D.C. Fire and EMS confirmed to the news station that they are investigating the incident but did not comment further.
The department is already under fire for the recent death of a 77-year-old man who collapsed directly across the street from a fire station in January. His daughter and onlookers pleaded with firefighters for help, but were told they couldn't respond unless 911 dispatched them.
Read more at NBC 4 Washington.