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Would you refuse an emergency call over political difference of opinion?

TUCSON, Ariz. – A veteran firefighter refused to respond to last month's deadly shooting spree that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wounded because he had different political views than his colleagues and "did not want to be part of it," according to internal city memos.

Mark Ekstrum's insubordination may have delayed his unit's response because firefighters had to stop at another station to pick up a replacement for him, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

While the crew was not among the first called to the supermarket where six people were killed and 13 others wounded, a memo from Ekstrum's supervisor said his actions caused "confusion and delay" during the emergency.

Ekstrum's team, which is specially trained to handle large medical emergencies, was dispatched to assist 90 minutes after the Jan. 8 shooting.

The 28-year veteran of the Tucson Fire Department retired two days later while his supervisors were still considering how to discipline him, according to the Star, which obtained the memos about the incident through a public records request.

Capt. Ben Williams wrote in a report that when Ekstrum first said he would not go on the call, "he mentioned something about `political bantering' and he did not want to be part of it."

Answer Question

Asked by sweet-a-kins at 1:05 PM on Feb. 18, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 34 (67,502 Credits)
Answers (27)
  • Yes I would, but not one like this. If it was a life or death situation then I would go because that would be my job to save people. There would be no way of knowing if all those injured or killed shared different views then I did. However if it was a mundane call (and believe me they have them my ex and one of my friends is a paramedic) then I would say no I dont want to go to it. I know my ex and my friend actually have the right to do that. Sometimes they get calls for instance one old lady called every Friday night because there is a 45 min lapse between one nurse leaving and another coming and she old lady doesnt want to be alone. So if it was like that then sure I would say no. But a shooting? No I would go.

    Answer by gemgem at 1:08 PM on Feb. 18, 2011

  • Im sorry I dont care what your political view is. You signed up for a job to serve and protect your community. You do your job. If you dont like it, dont do the job. I dont like some of the parents I work with and I dont agree with some of the things they say but that doesnt mean I will care for their child any less. I picked the job, I do the job.

    Answer by mrssmitley1210 at 1:08 PM on Feb. 18, 2011

  • There's a bit more from AP:
    Williams said in the report that he told the 56-year-old firefighter that he could not refuse a call for that reason and then talked to the firefighter privately in his office. He said Ekstrum "started to say something about how he had a much different political viewpoint than the rest of the crew and he was concerned."

    Despite being told that was not acceptable, Williams said Ekstrum informed him he was going home "sick," so they answered the call without him.

    Ekstrum's crew had been dispatched at 12:03 p.m., seven minutes after the last patient arrived at the hospital, said Joe Gulotta, an assistant fire chief. The team was responding as a support crew with a large delivery truck with tents, medical supplies, water and cots used to assist those who were not seriously injured.

    (To be continued)

    Answer by gdiamante at 1:09 PM on Feb. 18, 2011

  • sweet-a-kins

    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 1:09 PM on Feb. 18, 2011

  • Ekstrum declined to comment on the Star's story and refused to elaborate on any details of the memos when reached at his home Thursday by The Associated Press.

    "I have nothing else to say about it," Ekstrum said.

    But the Star said Ekstrum gave a statement Wednesday to the Fire Department saying he was distraught over the shootings and was "distracted to the point of not being able to perform my routine station duties to such an extent that I seriously doubted my ability to focus on an emergency call."

    Ekstrum also said in the statement that he had no problem with Giffords and even voted for her in the last election.

    Answer by gdiamante at 1:09 PM on Feb. 18, 2011

  • What he did is just wrong on so many levels.......

    Answer by older at 1:10 PM on Feb. 18, 2011

  • This whole thing makes no sense. But delaying response is WRONG.

    Answer by gdiamante at 1:10 PM on Feb. 18, 2011

  • His job is to save lives and leave his personal opinion out of it. Shameful behavior.

    Answer by jamesonjustines at 1:13 PM on Feb. 18, 2011

  • That's pretty sick!!! When you are in a position like that, it's your JOB to respond and take care of the person, no matter what their political views are!! You leave your personal feelings and views at the door when you work in the medical field. I used to be a nurse, so I'm speaking from experience. I've had plenty of patients that I had opposing beliefs with, or that I had a personal issue with their lifestyle or attitude, but I still did my job and treated everyone the same, giving them the best care I knew how.

    Answer by Bethsunshine at 1:16 PM on Feb. 18, 2011

  • that's sick. next thing you know, a vegetarian firefighter will refuse to aid a massacre at a meat packing plant. and a hot dog eating champ won't aid a jewish temple in a massive fire. and i wont help my husband get to the hospital during a heart attack cuz he's a boy and i'm a girl. dumbass.

    Answer by Mrs.L.Mita at 1:22 PM on Feb. 18, 2011

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