Report: Sheriff’s and Fire Officials Fought While O.C. Woman Languished

The ongoing feud over helicopter rescues in Orange County is reaching a crescendo. The Orange County Register now reports that disagreements between the two agencies have led to rescue delays which, in at last one case, may have resulted in permanent damage to a victim.

“Can you guys stop arguing and help my mother?” one young woman reportedly cried during a 2016 incident detailed by individuals familiar with the situation.

According to one member of the sheriff’s department, a member of the fire authority actually “inserted himself directly over the patient and created a physical barrier” during the fight that delayed the woman’s transport. She suffered a “subsequent disability,” according to the report.

Representatives from the fire authority dispute that version of events.

The Register was unable to confirm whether the woman suffered lasting brain damage from the delay, as the sheriff’s department personnel claim. But it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that this situation is a tinderbox waiting to combust.

Nevertheless, here’s Dr. Kenji Inaba, a surgeon and associate professor at the University of Southern California, to confirm:

“Minutes can make a huge difference in whether someone lives or dies,” Dr. Inaba said.

The county has tried multiple times to intervene. Now they’re turning to the California Office of Emergency Services in hopes that it can help the two sides reach an agreement. Until then, the threat of massive lawsuits -- and death -- hovers over the county’s disputed airways.



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