ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- A man had to go to the hospital for a diabetic emergency, but he ended up breaking both shoulders and his spine. Now he's suing Orange County Fire-Rescue because, he says, paramedics dropped him.
It's been 16 months since paramedics were called to Astolfo Lugo's Orange County apartment complex. Lugo still can't walk without help. Each step is an exercise in pain for the 52-year-old and he can't dress or bathe himself.
The morning of July 18, 2006, Lugo's adult son noticed his father was weak and slurring his speech; his blood sugar was abnormally low.
"He couldn't talk. He was saying, 'Please help me. Please help me,'" said Astolfo Lugo, Jr., the man's son. "He also had a little bit of blood coming out of his mouth."
Lugo Jr. called Orange County paramedics, who decided to transport Lugo Sr. to the hospital for treatment. Lugo Sr. was conscious, but unresponsive as he sat in a wooden chair in his second floor apartment. The suit alleges paramedics picked Lugo up in the chair.
"I told them, 'Please bring a stretcher.' And they say, 'No, that's the procedure. Step back,'" Lugo Jr. told Eyewitness News.
That's when the chair broke, causing Lugo Sr. to tumble six feet to the living room floor. He broke his hip in three places, both shoulders and suffered spinal fractures. Lugo Sr. told Eyewitness News he can also no longer play guitar at church, one of his passions.
The suit goes on to say paramedics then carried Lugo down the stairs without immobilizing him, further aggravating his injuries. The county has been silent except to offer the Lugos a cash settlement, an amount the family's attorney says is insufficient to even cover medical expenses.
"We've received no information that an investigation's been done, that they have taken any steps to ensure this doesn't happen again to anyone," said the Lugos' attorney Maria Tejedor.
The county will not comment on pending litigation, but the county has a written policy in place as to how it transports patients, normally using a foldable transport chair in each EMT vehicle.