Woman Dies After Medics Assumed She Couldn’t Afford Ambulance


“Get up get, get get down / 911 is a joke in yo town / Get up, get, get, get down / Late 911 wears the late crown” – that’s from the 1993 song, “911 Is a Joke” by Public Enemy. The group made a song about the tendency of emergency responders to respond slow to a African American neighborhoods, which was common for many in the 80’s and 90’s.

Now, it seems that 911 has a new tune: not giving rides to Black passengers at all.

Earlier this month, Nicole Black rushed her daughter, Crystle Galloway, to the hospital after medics told her she couldn’t afford an ambulance ride. Galloway had a c-section days before when she gave birth to her son, Jacob Aden.

“She passed away before her babies umbilical chord dropped off,” said Black.

The Florida State Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill, admits the four fire medics that showed up to take care of her didn’t do their job correctly.

“They didn’t take any vitals, they didn’t take any blood pressure, they didn’t check her temperature,” said Black.

Black described to ABC Action News, what happened to her daughter that night, just one day after the Hillsborough County Administrator told media the four fire medics were suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.

(Mother and daughter)

Black says on July 4, Galloway’s 7-year-old daughter called to say something was wrong with her mom. Black lives down the hall in the same condominium complex. She ran to the other condo and saw her daughter slumped over the tub.

She called 911 and described what she what saw.

Nicole Black to dispatch: “I found her in the bathroom, lips swollen drooling from the mouth.”
Dispatch: Is she conscious?
Nicole Black: Kind of, yeah. Kind of responsive.
Dispatch: Ok. Is she breathing?
Nicole Black: Yes, she’s breathing.
Dispatch: Is she completely alert?
Nicole Black: Kind of. Yea, kind of. Something’s wrong.

After deputies arrived, Black claims they told her she couldn’t afford an ambulance ride.

“They never asked us if we had insurance, which we do,” Black said. She feels she was stereotyped.

After fire medics got Galloway down the stairs, the County Administrator says the group made their second mistake. They let Black drive Galloway to the hospital without signing a consent form.

Black claims the fire medics told her again she couldn’t afford the ambulance.

“The whole conversation as the EMS drivers put my child in my car was that was best for us because we couldn’t afford an ambulance,” she said. “My daughter begged for her life, she begged!”

Galloway fell into a coma for days before she passed away at Tampa General Hospital.

“She’s 30 years old and just graduated from college, she had her whole life ahead of her,” Black said about her daughter. “You can tell me you’re sorry, you can give me your condolences but you still have to work this out with God.”

Merrill also says the fire medics didn’t fill out the final paperwork correctly. They checked the patient hadn’t been found when clearly she had.

This may be one reason why many people aren’t calling ambulances anymore and just going for ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft.

Ridesharing apps also give passengers the opportunity to select a hospital, rather than being taken to the closest one. And based on location to the driver when ordering a car, those requesting an Uber can sometimes experience a shorter wait time than they would for an ambulance.

“We’re grateful our service has helped people get to where they’re going when they need it the most,” an Uber spokesman told Mashable.

Officially Uber agrees that riders should call local police or emergency medical services for emergencies.

“It’s important to note that Uber is not a substitute for law enforcement or medical professionals,” said Uber spokesperson Brooke Anderson by email. “In the event of any medical emergency, we encourage people to call 911.”

Some emergency departments are beginning to change their protocol. Last summer, Washington, D.C., city officials began studying the use of ride-hailing to respond to what they describe as “non-emergency, low-acuity” calls, which…