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State board suspends licenses of two EMTs for failing to aid Tyre Nichols

Robert Long and JaMicheal Sandridge were both fired from their jobs at the Memphis Fire Department on Jan. 30 along with Lt. Michelle Whitaker.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two EMTs who were fired earlier this week for failing to aid Tyre Nichols after he was beaten by police have now had their licenses suspended by the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services Board.

At a virtual meeting Friday morning, the attending board members voted unanimously to impose a summary suspension on EMT-Advanced JaMicheal Sandridge and EMT-Basic Robert Long.

According to an earlier news release from the Memphis Fire Department, Sandridge and Long were dispatched on Engine 55 and arrived at the scene where Nichols was handcuffed on the ground at about 8:41 p.m. MFD leaders said the EMTs requested an ambulance but failed to do an adequate assessment of Nichols.

Matt Gibbs, an attorney with the Tennessee Department of Health, offered a more detailed assessment at Friday's board meeting, faulting Sandridge for failing to administer an IV or monitor Nichols' vital signs and faulting both men for failing to administer high-flow oxygen or offer any other meaningful aid.

Gibbs presented 19 minutes of footage captured from a pole camera, during which Nichols could be seen sitting slumped against the side of a patrol car. Long and Sandridge both approached carrying medical supply bags, but didn't aid Nichols for the duration of the footage, Gibbs said.

"Their patient was in obvious distress. I think that it’s obvious to even a layperson that he was in terrible distress and needed help, and they failed to provide that help," board member Sullivan Smith said after viewing the footage. "They were his best shot, and they failed to help."

Other board members made similar comments, and board member Dennis Rowe said there was "every reason to believe" that the lack of action may have contributed to Nichols' death.

Watch the board hearing HERE.

Credit: Memphis Fire Department
JaMicheal Sandridge (left) and Robert Long (right)

The board voted separately on each EMT's suspension. Both votes were unanimous, with two members absent.

Rowe added that he hoped to see disciplinary action taken against any other emergency medical personnel who were at the scene and didn't step in to help. Smith replied that the investigation was still ongoing and the board was waiting to see the conclusions to see what would need to be addressed.

"If there are an EMR or an EMT or an A-EMT or a paramedic that was on that scene and failed to act, it would be my hope that those are being handled and we could see those in the future, because this is egregious behavior for any human being, and this is not a reflection of EMS in the state of Tennessee," Rowe said.

The suspension isn't a final resolution to the cases, according to Gibbs, but it immediately prohibits Sandridge and Long from operating as emergency medical personnel.

"There will come a time in the near future to consider the full scope of disciplinary parameters of this case," he told the board members.

Five Memphis Police officers were fired and later indicted on numerous charges including second-degree murder for the beating and eventual death of Nichols. Two other MPD officers have been relieved of duty, and Two Shelby County Sheriff's officers have been relieved of duty, pending the investigation.

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