A teenager being treated in an ambulance began assaulting paramedics as the vehicle was heading down a north metro interstate late at night, leaving his care providers injured and the patient in jail, authorities said Thursday.
The fight erupted about 11:45 p.m. Wednesday on southbound Interstate 35E in Lino Lakes. Two North Memorial Health Care paramedics were injured and the 18-year-old patient was jailed on suspicion of assault and obstructing the legal process, police said.
The paramedics, one a driver and the other stationed in back with the teen, were treated and released Thursday from North Memorial Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Authorities have yet to reveal what prompted the patient to start “kicking, hitting and elbowing” the paramedics in a “confined assault,” said Police Sgt. Chad Schirmers.
But what the outburst did prompt was a social media scolding from Schirmers on the Police Department’s Facebook page.
“Someone tonight decided it would be appropriate to assault the paramedics ... OUR paramedics, the people who respond to calls in this city every day,” Schirmers’ posting began.
“The suspect waited until the police left, waited for the ambulance to be moving and the staff to be preoccupied by their treatment and concentration on the road ahead, then decided it was time to fight in a moving vehicle,” Schirmers continued.
The sergeant went on to call the patient’s attack nothing short of “cowardly behavior.”
Taking a broader look, the posting acknowledged that “we understand why law enforcement can be seen as the enemy by criminals, they have arrest powers and can take you to jail, in a way that actually makes sense. But why would you ever hurt someone where their only job is to provide medical care to you?”
The posting then invited children to make get well cards for the paramedics and send them to the Lino Lakes Police Department.
Within the first 12 hours, the Facebook account of the incident has been shared roughly 950 times and prompted more than 170 comments.
Schirmers said later that he emoted on Facebook about the attack because “I don’t think everyone is always acknowledging paramedics and EMTs. They are not as visible [as police officers]. They don’t patrol. But they face some of the same risks that we do.”
The teen was picked up shortly after 11 p.m. for a possible LSD overdose at his family’s home in Hugo, according to audio from Washington County emergency dispatch. The dispatch noted that there was a call to that same address the previous night concerning the son’s aggressive behavior.
After his assault ended, the teen continued his trip to a hospital in a different ambulance and was then taken to the Anoka County jail.