Detroit’s grinch: Overworked medics targeted for Christmas eve discipline

Detroit’s understaffed medics routinely risk their lives at crime scenes because police are unable to respond. They still don’t have ballistic vests after they were promised protection following brutal stabbings of two medics in October 2015.

Now more than a dozen medics are required to attend a disciplinary hearing on their day off on Christmas Eve because of relatively minor paperwork issues, and the minor infractions could cost them fines and days off without pay after their pension and health care benefits have been slashed, according to the union protecting the medics.

One of charged medics was recently honored for saving the life of a child from drowning in the Detroit River. Some of the others have barely escaped injury while trying to treat victims of violent crimes while Detroit cops were unable to respond.

Most of them are accused of failing to scan a hospital bar code on electronic patient care reports. The medics could be suspended without pay and fined – one day before Christmas.

Detroit Fire Fighters Association President Mike Nevin said the disciplinary actions are just the latest example of aggressive punitive actions taken by fire department, which includes EMS, against understaffed public safety officials who risk their lives every day in the nation’s most violent city.

“This administration has and continues to use discipline as a tool of mental and economic persecution as a means to keep what they believe is control of the hardest working public safety officials in America,” Nevin told Motor City Muckraker on Saturday. “Fact is, Detroit heroes have zero confidence in this administration and its crooked leadership as they continue to circle the drain. The DFFA would expect nothing less from the DFD administration pulling money from our members’ pockets”

Mayor Duggan with fire union chief Mike Nevin.

Nevin, a 32-year veteran of the fire department and a second-generation firefighter, made national news recently when Detroit Police Chief James Craig threatened to arrest the Detroit native after blowing the whistle on sluggish police response times that are increasingly putting medics, firefighters and the public at risk. The Wayne County Prosecutors Office earlier this week declined to charge Nevin for allegedly releasing “sensitive information” to the media to show the gravity of the crisis.

Detroit police told Motor City Muckraker this weekend that they are going to resubmit a request to charge Nevin, one of the few – if not the only – public safety official who continues to put his job and freedom on the line to give residents the unvarnished, ugly truth about sluggish police response times

After Chief Craig called Nevin a liar for calling attention to abysmal response times, Motor City Muckraker launched an ongoing investigation two weeks ago that has so far found the problem is even far worse than Nevin revealed.

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Nevin said he’s unfazed by the threats and pledged, “DFFA will be there to vigorously defend our members!”

During the municipal bankruptcy, city officials gutted pension and health care benefits of firefighters and medics who are paid roughly what a fast food manager is paid. Since the city emerged from bankruptcy, the city has fewer police, firefighters and medics, even as billionaire developers have received hundreds of millions of dollars in city taxes.

That has often left firefighters and medics with no police protection as they respond to violent crimes. This weekend, medics and firefighters were forced to wait nearly 30 minutes for police to respond to a stabbing – a common occurrence – because the bleeding victim was afraid to leave his location without police protection.

It happens every night.

Mayor Duggan and Chief Craig have declined numerous Muckraker requests for an interview, while much of the media has ignored the crisis.

Nevin has long been the favorite among firefighters and medics to serve as fire commissioner – the top position in the fire department. The city has a long line of former commissioners who have failed to improve conditions in a city with relentless emergencies.

Nevin has met in previous weeks with city council, the mayor and lawmakers to urge for the hiring of more medics and firefighters, whose ranks are lower than before the city filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

Nevin continues to hold out hope that Duggan will improve public safety. But he said police and fire department officials are keeping the mayor in the dark about the crisis that is unnecessarily costing lives.

Watch Nevin respond earlier this month to the city’s threats against him. The Facebook video posted by Motor City Muckraker so far has received

Detroit fire boss Mike Nevin, who blew the whistle on slow response times, responds to threats of criminal charges from Detroit Police Chief James Craig. Don’t underestimate the retaliation from the Duggan administration. Nevin is a fierce defender of public safety, and he ain’t going out without a fight.

Posted by Motor City Muckraker on Friday, December 7, 2018

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.