San Francisco, CA – 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.
According to Estrada, the paramedic crew asked him 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. The video of the that blaze can be viewed on YouTube by searching “Enoch Estrada.”
After showing off injuries he allegedly suffered as a firefighter, Estrada claims he walked to the doorway unassisted by paramedics on the scene. The At 6-foot-1 and 280 pounds, Estrada was eventually hoisted into the ambulance and transported to a nearby hospital. This is when things became a harrowing adventure for Estrada.
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 to the back doors of the emergency room at Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center, Estrada says he was unloaded while on the gurney. As the wheels touched the ground, Estrada says he heard a “click,” and the gurney dropped violently to the ground.
“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,” Estrada says.
According to Estrada, one of the paramedics then said, “I know we hurt you even more.” 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 because the crew never informed the medical staff about the incident,” says Estrada.
Estrada says this “firefighter brutality” experience didn’t end that day. He was released from the Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center 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.
“I have never had a history of bulging discs,” said Estrada, who saw his career end nine years ago in that six-alarm fire when a heap of building debris falling on him.
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.
Estrada said as he 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, Estrada claims. According to Estrada, this particular individual felt like his 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, Estrada asserted. As his pain worsened, Estrada says he was forced to ask his brother to drive him to Summerlin Hospital Medical Center’s emergency room.
Estrada states he could not believe his treatment by fellow firefighters and that the so-called “brotherhood” does not include Black men. Estrada 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.”
Estrada says the lack of diversity at fire and police departments, speaks to a greater issue at hand for African Americans.
“As taxpayers, we need to have a say in the hiring process immediately going forward,” Estrada said. “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.”
Editor’s note: Due to the injuries he suffered, Estrada may be headed for surgery. Michael Estrada can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.