Crystle Galloway had given birth just days before she began experiencing symptoms of stroke, reported the Tampa Bay Times. The Florida mom of three welcomed her son via c-section in late June, and hadn't felt well ever since the delivery. Then, on July 4, Galloway was found unresponsive in her apartment by her mother, Nicole Black, who called 911 for help. That's when the story took a terrible turn. Black alleged to the Times that the responding medics left Galloway behind, assuming Galloway couldn't afford the ambulance, and the new mom died days later. Medics claimed that Black said she would transport her daughter to the hospital and were later suspended from work after a review found they "did not perform their job duties," according to a statement provided to Romper by the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.
It is a story that invokes findings on the maternal mortality rates among Black women, which are three times as high as that of white women, per a joint investigation by NPR and ProPublica, as well as the pervasiveness of discrimination — black Americans take discrimination as a fact of life, concluded NPR earlier this year.
Black, who lives in the same condominium complex as Galloway and her three children, rushed to the apartment after her 7-year-old granddaughter called to say her mother was unconscious, according to the story by Tampa Bay Times reporter Anastasia Dawson, which was reposted by The Stir. Galloway, also mom to a 13-year-old girl, regained consciousness briefly after Black found her "in the bathroom, lips swollen, drooling from the mouth," according to a recording of the 911 call that was released.
Four paramedics with the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue in Florida arrived to Galloway's apartment early that morning. But, Black alleged, instead of treating Galloway, told her that she likely couldn't pay for the $600 ambulance ride to the hospital. Their failure to help, Black claimed, is what ultimately cost her daughter her life.
Black blamed medics for the tragedy, telling ABC Action News, "They didn’t take any vitals, they didn’t take any blood pressure, they didn’t check her temperature. ... They never asked us if we had insurance, which we do."
Black said her daughter "begged for her life," but the fire medics failed to act, ABC reported. The grandmother had to drive Galloway to the hospital herself, and claimed that as the first responders transported Galloway into her vehicle, they reiterated that "we couldn't afford an ambulance," Black said, according to ABC Action News. The 30-year-old mom of three slipped into a coma and died days later at Tampa General Hospital.
Hillsborough County officials launched an investigation into the July 4 incident, and determined that the four first responders failed to follow basic procedure during an emergency situation, according to The Tampa Bay Times. The county found that they didn't check Galloway's vital signs, as her mother had claimed — standard procedure whether or not a patient will travel by ambulance — despite the fact that the 911 call was marked as a possible stroke case, reported the Times.
"In a situation where it's obvious to me, to any of you, that they should have at least taken this woman's blood pressure. And clear and obvious, she needed to to be transported and none of the four made the right decision," Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said in a news conference on Monday, reported on by ABC Action News.
What's more, officials also found the medics had falsified records by logging the call as "non-transport/no patient found," as well as failed to have Galloway or Black sign an informed consent form to confirm she declined medical transport, according to the Times.
"It showed up as patient can't be found, or person couldn't be found. Anybody looking at that on its face would have dismissed it. This is clearly unacceptable. We can't have this happen again," Merrill said at the conference, per ABC Action News.
The responding paramedics were placed on immediate administrative leave with pay, and were notified of the decision on Friday, the report said.
"Based on the facts and statements obtained during the review of this incident by Human Resources, the information indicates that the four Fire Rescue personnel did not perform their duties," Merrill said in a statement on behalf of the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue provided to Romper. "The review indicates several Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Standard Operating Procedures were violated during this incident."
A pre-disciplinary hearing will be held on Tuesday to determine whether or not the four first responders will keep their jobs or be terminated, ABC Action News reported.
Black, who hopes the paramedics are fired, described her daughter as someone who "had her whole life ahead of her" to ABC Action News:
"She’s 30 years old and just graduated from college, she had her whole life ahead of her. You can tell me you’re sorry, you can give me your condolences but you still have to work this out with God."
The Florida grandmother will now take care of her three grandchildren, and has set up a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe for Galloway's children. Donations, Black wrote on the page, will help pay for legal fees, as well as basic care items, such as diapers, as she and her family try to cope with their tragic loss.
No parent should have to bury their child. And this was one tragedy that could have been avoided if the people entrusted to save lives did their job.