Berkeley Man Dies After #BlackLivesMatter Protesters Delay Paramedics

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Excerpted from The Daily Caller: A Berkeley, California man died last December after paramedics were delayed nearly an hour because of an unruly protest against police brutality, recently released records show.

Berkleyside, a self-described “independent news site” serving the Berkeley area, reports that the 62-year-old Alvin Henry Jones Jr. would have normally received treatment in minutes. However, due to a nearby #BlackLivesMatters protest, paramedics were instead ordered to go to a local fire station and await a police escort before attempting to rescue Jones. Keep reading


Excerpted from Berkleyside:
They were just two minutes away, but it took paramedics 27 minutes during the Berkeley protests in December to reach a patient who later died, according to documents obtained by Berkeleyside under a Public Records Act request.

For 23 of those minutes, paramedics were waiting for a police escort, as per a standing city protocol, to ensure they could avoid the protests Dec. 7 and reach the man safely after he collapsed and struggled to breathe in a large affordable housing complex downtown. The Berkeley Fire Department’s average response time is 5.5 minutes.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the protests.

The response time was so delayed that a Berkeley paramedic was required by law to file an “Unusual Occurrence” form with Alameda County. Paramedic supervisor Rachel Valenzuela filed the form Dec. 9, less than two days after the Dec. 7 call on Kittredge. The form indicated that patient care had been affected during the call, and replied in the affirmative to the question of “Could this event cause a community reaction or represent a threat to public safety?” Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong said Tuesday he could not clarify what “this event” referred to, but said the addendum to the form provided additional detail.

Nearly all medical information was redacted from the documents, but they did reveal that three paramedics provided advanced life support to the man during his 8-minute journey to the hospital, where he arrived about 52 minutes after dispatchers first received a 911 call about his condition.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified the man Thursday as Alvin Henry Jones Jr., a 63-year-old Berkeley resident who died of natural causes. According to the coroner’s office, Jones died Dec. 9 at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley. Jones reportedly is survived by a sister who lives in New York, but Berkeleyside was unable to locate her prior to publication.

DEC. 7: THE TIMELINE

6:39 p.m. Caller informs dispatch that paramedics are needed on Kittredge
6:40 p.m. Engine and medic are dispatched, but told to wait at the station for police
6:40 p.m., 6:49 p.m., 6:55 p.m., 7:03 p.m. Medical condition notes redacted
7:03 p.m. Police arrive at Berkeley Fire Station 2 (23 minutes elapsed)
7:05 p.m. Police and fire arrive at Kittredge (25 minutes elapsed)
7:07 p.m. Paramedics reach patient (27 minutes elapsed)
7:23 p.m. Paramedics and patient en route to hospital (43 minutes elapsed)
7:31 p.m. Paramedics arrive at hospital (52 minutes elapsed)

In the addendum, Valenzuela wrote that an engine and medic were dispatched at 6:40 p.m. to Kittredge Street — about a minute after the initial call — but were directed by a commander “to stage in quarters due to protest activity in the immediate area of the call. It was reported to the crews a large group of protestors were within a block of the call and the medical response were to stage in quarters until a police escort could escort us to the call.”

The team waited for police at Fire Station 2, at 2029 Berkeley Way, and received periodic updates on its computer system about the call, according to the addendum. At 6:46 p.m., according to another Berkeley Fire Department report that included a log with timestamps, the reporting party from Kittredge called dispatch again. Details about that call were redacted, as were other updates related to the man’s medical condition at 6:40 p.m., 6:49 p.m. and 7:03 p.m.

Berkeleyside reviewed scanner recordings to learn more about the incident. In those recordings, the man was identified as a 62-year-old who had collapsed on the fifth floor of 2175 Kittredge St. A fire dispatcher said the man was having “difficulty breathing, and sweating,” adding: “The subject will be in front of the elevator.”

The crowd — which had begun walking from campus through the Southside neighborhood and on into downtown at about 6 p.m. — at that point was described on the radio as 800-strong. The group was said to be moving westbound on University Avenue from Shattuck. There was also a police barricade set up, blocking Martin Luther King Jr. Way between Addison and Center streets.

Police arrived at 7:03 p.m. to Station 2, at 2029 Berkeley Way just west of Shattuck Avenue, according to the addendum. The police and firefighter team left for Oxford Plaza, a 97-unit affordable apartment complex on Kittredge, and arrived two minutes later, just before 7:05 p.m.

Paramedics went into the building, where they made contact with the patient at 7:07 p.m. Police officers “stayed on scene for protection,” according to the report. The patient was “quickly brought to the ambulance due to protest getting closer.” The supervisor wrote that there was a “slight delay on scene” related to the extrication of the patient, but no further detail was provided. (Dong said Tuesday he could not comment on the nature of the extrication due to medical privacy laws.) One source familiar with the call said paramedics had to revive the man at the scene before taking him to the hospital.

“While in front of building prior to transport [redacted], multiple police officers were on scene protecting EMS crews and BFD BC [Battalion Chief] was on scene stating immediate transport needed due to volatile protest and scene safety,” according to the addendum. Keep reading

—Courtesy of Pat Dollard

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