SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. — (BlackNews.com) — Retired San Francisco Firefighter/Paramedic Michael Estrada believes he was a victim of paramedic brutality. He says he recently summoned 911 to his residence for help after he was overcome with pain from a back-muscle spasm that made it difficult to stand to his feet. Paramedic Unit 54 of the North Las Vegas Fire Department arrived. The crew asked Estrada some basic questions, mostly about medical insurance, but never performed a physical assessment. Estrada informed them that he was a retired San Francisco Firefighter/Paramedic and was injured while battling a six-alarm blaze on May 21, 2009, which can be viewed on YouTube by searching “Enoch Estrada.” He also showed them all of his horrific injuries, but they did not seem to be interested in his history.
He says he walked to the doorway unassisted by the crew. At 6’1” 280 lbs, they could barely lift Estrada into the ambulance on their gurney. It would have been easier had they called for an engine company to help with the lift. According to Estrada, “The ride was bumpy and painful, and tears streamed down my face.” The medic then asked, “Were you a victim of the fire in San Francisco, and the firemen saved you?” Estrada replied, “I thought I told you I was the one fighting the fire.” Estrada believes the crew did not take seriously his story of being a retired firefighter.
When they arrived at the back doors of the emergency room at Centennial Hills Hospital, Estrada says he was unloaded while on the gurney. As the wheels touched the ground, he heard a “click,” and the gurney dropped violently to the ground. Estrada states, “When my body hit the ground, I passed out for a few seconds to wake up hearing them say, “Oh, f—!” One of them even giggled. Then one of the medics said, “I know we hurt you even more,” as he smiled and as tears ran down Estrada’s face. After the drop, which Estrada describes as going from the second floor to the basement in an elevator at full speed, he felt tingling in his lower extremities immediately. They literally “dropped me off,” says Estrada, “because the crew never informed the medical staff about the incident.”
Estrada says this “fire-fighter brutality” didn’t end that day. He was released from Centennial Hills Hospital emergency room later that night with pain medication. MRIs and x-rays revealed he had swelling around his spine, bulging discs, and a bruised spinal cord. Mr. Estrada states, “I have never had a history of bulging discs,” even after surviving 800 lbs. of building materials falling on him during the six-alarm fire that ended his career. Ten years later, he was in good health and had even run an 8K two months ago (prior to this recent incident).
The next day, Estrada says he and his brother headed to Los Angeles to see his doctor because he woke up with severe pains running down the base of his head to his right leg, and he could barely walk. He and his brother stopped into a coffee house in Las Vegas before making the three-hour ride. As Estrada sat in the passenger seat, he felt a sudden sharp pain in his back. He began to panic. He felt short of breath with “tightness” in his chest, so he phoned 911. When the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Ambulance arrived, one of their paramedics refused to transport him. He felt Estrada’s condition did not warrant transport in their ambulance because it was not an “emergency.” They offered to call him a “private ambulance,” with a wait time of 30 minutes when the hospital was only five minutes away. Due to the pain, he was forced to ask his brother to drive him to Summerlin Hospital emergency room.
Estrada states he could not believe his treatment by fellow firefighters and that the so-called “Brotherhood” does not include Black men. He thinks the issue of “Firefighter and Police Brutality” would be solved if cities were forced to hire people who reflect the diversity of the city. “There should be many more people of color,” says Estrada. “The labor unions of the fire and police buy politicians and convince them to hire and promote whom they want.” He also states that departments like North Las Vegas and Las Vegas fight less fire than most fire departments. Ninety-eight percent of their calls are medical, and arsonists and firefighters start fires alike across this country. The police and fire departments in Clark County only have a handful of Blacks, which is inexcusable. Estrada says, “As taxpayers, we need to have a say in the hiring process immediately going forward. We need to pursue fire and police officials as individuals civilly in court when they hurt us, along with their agencies. We should boycott all American companies and sports until they allow us to own half of all sports teams, build Black businesses and support our own like every other race in this country does, and, lastly, we need to learn our history before slavery. The people shall be destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
At the time of this article, the doctors are recommending surgery as the last resort. Because of his injuries, his business – a custom automotive shop that restores high-end classic cars – is losing money daily. The most disheartening thing, according to Mr. Estrada, is he may be forced to represent himself in court because the attorneys in Las Vegas are not experienced in trials and simply want to get paid 40 percent for settling cases in back rooms.
For more details about Michael Estrada’s experience, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org