Fla. FFs Pay $200K for Dropping Patient

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. --

Orange County firefighters will have to pay a $200,000 legal settlement for dropping a patient. In 2006, Orange County firefighters tried to carry a man out of his second floor apartment in a wooden chair, and the chair broke.

The man broke his back in that fall and says he broke his hip, shoulders and had spinal fractures.

Orange County Fire Rescue developed new policies for transporting patients after paramedics dropped 52-year-old Astolfo Lugo, while they were trying to carry him down some stairs.

Lugo had a seizure, and family members called 911 for help.

The family filed a lawsuit in 2007. They said he was conscious and sitting in a wooden chair on second floor when fire rescue crews arrived.

Orange County firefighters said when they got on scene, they assessed the situation and felt the best way to take him down the stars was to leave him in the chair instead of placing him in a stair chair, which is a chair with several straps emergency crews use when they are in tight quarters.

While paramedics were carrying him down the stairs, the chair broke and Lugo fell about 3 feet. The Lugos claim the firefighters failed to secure him.

But Orange County disagrees and says he fell because the chair fell apart. According to Orange County policy, it was not mandatory to transport a patient in the stair chair or stretcher; crews could use their discretion.

After two years of litigation the county agreed to pay the Lugos $200,000.

WFTV was unable to get a hold of the Lugos or their attorney for comment. Since that accident, the county says it is now mandatory to use a stair chair.

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