Two local firefighter/paramedics terminated for failing to provide adequate emergency care may soon get their jobs back with Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services (PVFRS).
Las Vegas arbitrator Cathrine Harris ruled this month in favor of Tommy Hollis and Raymond Delucci, both of whom were terminated without cause following an incident that occurred last May near the Spring Mountain Pass on State Route 160.
According to the firefighters’ attorney, the arbitrator found the investigative report used by the town to justify the terminations contained multiple and intentional “material misrepresentations.”
Additionally, former Pahrump Town Manager Bill Kohbarger’s testimony at the time was said to have lacked any credibility.
The details surrounding the incident are stark.
According to official documents, both Hollis and Delucci were returning to Pahrump after transporting a patient to Las Vegas just after midnight on May 25, 2013.
During that time, a local woman who was more than 17 weeks pregnant was being driven by her husband into Las Vegas for emergency medical care after learning earlier in the day she was carrying a stillborn fetus.
While en route, documents indicate that the woman’s water broke as she began to give birth to the stillborn fetus near the summit of the pass.
The woman’s husband spotted the ambulance heading into Pahrump and attempted to contact the paramedics for assistance after making a u-turn and flashing the lights of his car.
After successfully getting the attention of the medic crew, who offered to drive the couple back to Pahrump, the couple became frustrated and continued on to Las Vegas where the woman eventually received five blood transfusions and passed five blood clots.
The medic crew’s version of the story, according to documents, differs from the couple’s.
Both men testified that the “highly agitated” husband was uncooperative when they tried to assess the situation on a dark highway after midnight.
After exchanging words, the medic crew said the husband became angry and eventually turned around and headed back toward Las Vegas.
The medics also said the driver’s erratic and apparent aggressive behavior caused them to feel unsafe at the time.
The ensuing investigation led town officials to believe the medics did not provide adequate emergency care after days of testimony from town officials.
Additionally, the arbitrator concluded that the medics were never given an opportunity to provide treatment due to circumstances beyond their control.
She provided evidence by citing a section of PVFRS/EMS protocols.
“The town cannot expect its firefighters to assess and perform emergency services in an unsafe working environment, i.e., in close proximity to a distraught and angry individual behind the wheel of a running vehicle. Moreover, the weight of the evidence establishes that the filing of special circumstance reports are neither discretionary or at the direction of a supervisor. Nor is there any persuasive evidence that the grievants knew or should have known that a patient contact report was to be filed under these circumstances,” the arbitrator ruled.
IAFF Local 4068 President Justin Snow declined to comment on the judgment, instead referring all inquiries regarding the matter to a Las Vegas attorney.
A press release from attorney Adam Levine stated, “Local 4068 sincerely regrets the amount of resources spent by the town as a result of poor decisions made by former Town Manager Bill Kohbarger. Local 4068 looks forward to putting this behind them and working with the new town manager in order to provide the best possible services to the people of the Town of Pahrump.”
Pahrump Town Manager Susan Holecheck said on Thursday that the town cannot comment until further clarification is received from the arbitrator and town counsel.
As a result of the decision both men are to be reinstated to their former positions upon presentation of valid licenses.
Additionally, both Hollis and Delucci are expected to receive back pay for lost wages and benefits from their unpaid leave of absence from October to the date of their reinstatement.
The town must also foot the bill for legal fees totaling more than $20,000.
Efforts to contact Kohbarger were unsuccessful.