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Ambulance service demands Denver TV station apologize for false report

KMGH-TV wrongly accused EMS crew of ignoring request to help injured boy

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Previously: Denver TV station’s claim ‘Paramedics ignore request to help injured boy’ falls apart

(UPDATE: A week after the original story aired, all video from both stories has finally been removed from KMGH-TV’s website and YouTube. The articles remain up without correction and/or apology.)

Friday night, Denver 7/KMGH-TV aired a false report about the actions of a local ambulance crew. By Sunday, the station knew there were big holes in its story and tried to remedy things with an update that didn’t address the real problems with Friday’s report. Now, almost a week later, both reports remain on the station’s website (here & here) with the video of the initial story still posted to YouTube (above). The EMS organization involved has rightfully called for “a full on air and written apology for the inaccurate and defaming information in this story.”

As many have written, the TV station rushed Friday’s story to air without verifying the accuracy of the account by the anonymous eyewitness. They also made a lot of assumptions about the video shot by the witness. But I believe there are bigger journalistic sins. Specifically, the lead-in read by the two anchors and the on-screen banner that ran throughout the initial story. To me, these words are the smoking gun and the reason Northglenn Ambulance should get that public apology:

Shannon Ogden: “Well there’s an ambulance in traffic 100 yards away but paramedics, won’t help you.”
AnneTrujillo:  “That’s exactly what happened last night at Leetsfield and Quebec in Denver.”
On-screen Banner: Paramedics Ignore Request To Help Injured Boy

My almost four decades in news tell me that jumping to conclusions about what you think you see in a video, coupled with the recall of a single witness who won’t even put his name behind his words, don’t provide enough confirmed information to support a banner saying “Paramedics Ignore Request To Help Injured Boy.” There also weren’t enough facts for it’s anchor team to say emphatically, “That’s exactly what happened last night”. As I wrote in an email to KMGH-TV management, the news operation had no way of knowing Friday night if any of this was really true.

If you want to know “exactly what happened” Friday night on KMGH-TV, it’s pretty simple. Some bad journalism was committed. It wasn’t bias against EMS or those in public safety, as some have written. Just some people not doing their jobs well and failing to live up to the basic standards of the profession. It happens in all lines of work. People make mistakes. Reporters, producers, anchors and news management all make mistakes. They have bad days. This was one of them.

As we know, when the news media publishes or airs a report like this reputations can be ruined. When the story turns out to be false, those reputations aren’t miraculously restored. That’s why it’s important for the news organization to hold itself accountable in the same way its reporters try to hold the people and organizations they cover accountable. Such accountability, coupled with transparency, is crucial to the credibility of KMGH-TV or any news operation.

The anchors of KMGH-TV made a pretty powerful statement when they told us this is “exactly what happened.” That statement was amplified by the stinging banner that an EMS crew failed to live up to its reason for being. This inaccurate reporting has harmed the image of Northglenn Ambulance and the reputation of its crew. The radio traffic (below) and the timeline provided yesterday (Wednesday) after Northglenn Ambulance’s own investigation (also below) are much stronger evidence than anything KMGH-TV showed us Friday. If the TV station has nothing to rebut this information it’s time for a sincere and clear public apology. Anything less will make a bad situation much worse.

Northglenn Ambulance Statement:

On Friday August 24th, 2018 Denver Channel 7 News reported that Northglenn Ambulance failed to initiate a response to a reported auto pedestrian accident which occurred on August 23rd. The story was updated again on Sunday August 26th stating that Northglenn Ambulance did in fact arrive on scene but failed to show a sense of urgency. Northglenn Ambulance management opened an investigation into the matter upon notification. Our team interviewed all crew members involved, reviewed the incident, audio and video, and completed an appropriateness test.

Our assessment has concluded that the Northglenn Ambulance Crew Members involved in this report acted with urgency and were completely appropriate in their actions.

The crew was notified at 18:01:22 by the bystander. That conversation lasted 22-seconds. The bystander stated the boy was hit in the crosswalk at the corner of Leetsdale and Quebec (which was not the correct location). The crew proceeded to contact Denver EMS Dispatch while simultaneously looking for the incident. ALL TRAFFIC (6 lanes at rush hour) was proceeding through the intersection normally (and past the injured party). The ambulance crew was scanning the area for anybody close to the injured party. By 18:03:04 the ambulance crew stopped an individual on the corner at Leetsdale and Quebec and asked if she knew where the incident was. She replied NO. The intersection was clear of any pedestrian accidents. The ambulance crew continued searching the area and communicating with Denver Dispatch for additional location information. The ambulance crew finally located the individual west of the Intersection approximately 1 block away and was on scene with the patient at 18:05:11.

From the time of first contact until the time our crew arrived on scene with the patient was 3 minutes and 49 seconds. Of this response time a full 22-seconds were spent listening to the bystander trying to get a better location of the patient.

The crew quickly prioritized the auto vs. pedestrian accident as a need to divert from their previous assignment.

Northglenn Ambulance management was not allowed the time to investigate this story properly before it aired. Northglenn Ambulance has reached out to Channel 7 requesting a full on air and written apology for the inaccurate and defaming information in this story from the Channel 7 News director.

Sincerely,
Rick Lindsey, CEO

A man saw a boy get hit by a car in the intersection near Leetsdale & Quebec in Denver and flagged down a South Adams County – Northglenn ambulance that was passing by (not their response area).They called it in and then tried to get turned around in heavy traffic, even with bad directions, to try to get to the boy. Dispatch told them it had already been called in and police and medical (from that area) were on their way and were nearby.The Northglenn ambulance made sure they found their way to the scene and make sure the Denver Health ambulance was taking care of the situation and then left.Somehow that man that flagged down the ambulance and only saw the boy hit from a distance, also did not stay long enough to see the ambulance turn around and go help.So then you have this story from 7News that got dispatch audio from Denver police, but for some reason, not from the ambulance themselves and went with the story that they ignored the man. The ambulance company is a non-profit that helps many people and they did not do anything wrong. They do not deserve this story… that just happens to be wrong.Here is the story from 7News: https://www.facebook.com/DenverChannel/posts/10156096229228271Click play and listen for yourselves.

Posted by Denver Crime Watch on Saturday, August 25, 2018

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