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Detroit mayor says TV reporter’s EMS blanket story is ‘blatantly false’. Charlie LeDuff stands by story that medic is punished for helping elderly man.

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Previous coverage of this story

A statement from Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says WJBK-TV’s story we first brought to you last Wednesday about a paramedic on charges for giving an elderly fire victim a blanket is “blatantly false”.  Reporter Charlie LeDuff, in the video above, says he stands by his story and that the city is blurring the facts.

The Detroit News’ Sebastian Hofer wrote this morning how the story has gone viral:

Outrage over a Detroit EMS paramedic Jeff Gaglio being charged by his  department after providing a fire victim with a blanket has gone viral.

“We are getting sent blankets from all over the country, even from overseas,”  said Detroit EMS medic Robert Shelton. “It is amazing what is going on  here.”

After a number of online news outlets such as Yahoo! News posted the story, the  Detroit blanket case went viral on the Web and started to draw nationwide  attention. As of Sunday evening, the Yahoo article had drawn more than 5,300  user comments.

Here’s the opening and conclusion to LeDuff’s latest story:

You might have caught a little story we did last week about a paramedic who has been brought up on charges after giving an old man a blanket.  Well after days and days, city hall finally issued a statement to everybody in the media but me calling the story “blatantly false”.

Well, there’s only two things to say here.  One, we stand by our story.  Two, fire headquarters and city hall ought to concentrate on the broken down rigs, 911 that doesn’t work, response times that are deadly and fraud and mismanagement in the fire department.

And here’s the statement from the office of Mayor Dave Bing:

A recent Fox2 Detroit report that a Detroit paramedic, Jeff Gaglio, was suspended for giving an elderly fire victim a blanket is blatantly false, Detroit Fire Commissioner Don Austin said today.

“This story was totally blown out of proportion because the reporter took portions of his interview with Detroit EMS Chief Jerald James out of context,” Commissioner Austin said.

When a Detroit EMS crew reported one blanket missing from an ambulance during a routine equipment check, Mr. Gaglio was identified as giving the blanket to a fire victim. EMS officials encourage staff paramedics to provide blankets, medical aid and comfort to emergency victims as needed.  However, Mr. Gaglio expressed resentment over being asked to write a report on his action, although that is standard procedure.  The only reprimand Mr. Gaglio has received involves his failure to inform his supervisor after the fact.

Jeff Gaglio has been ordered to attend an administrative hearing with his union representative to address work performance issues that are totally unrelated to giving a blanket to an elderly man.  Mr. Gaglio has not been suspended, and at this time, there are no plans to suspend him.

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