ONLY ON 5: Lawsuit claims medics didn’t help woman who soon died from COVID

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – A family in Klamath Falls called 911 in December 2020, asking for an ambulance.

But when it arrived, they said paramedics wouldn’t take their family member to the hospital, because she had covid-19.

“I want your people to do your effing job. I don’t want to have anyone else go through any of this,” Vivian Kimbol said.

On December 26, 2020 a Klamath Falls woman, Vivian Kimbol, called 911.

Her long-time partner, Teresa Vaughn, was struggling to breathe.

But when two Klamath County Fire District 1 paramedics got there, the family’s attorney said they didn’t help.

“Didn’t check Teresa’s vital signs, heart rate, blood pressure, listen to her lungs,” the plaintiff’s attorney Kirk Mylander said. “They have protocols for the bare minimum standards of what you do when you’re responding to someone who is having difficulty breathing.”

The lawsuit, filed last week, details what happened that day between the family and paramedics.

Kimbol asked Engler, “aren’t you going to take any vitals?” he replied, “we’re not supposed to expose ourselves to COVID.” Then Engler asked his only question to Teresa: “Can she take you to the hospital?” Teresa replied by saying, “I guess so… need my jacket.” Kimbol commented that apparently, Teresa didn’t have a choice. “what do you want?” Engler snapped at Kimbol. Kimbol replied, “for you to do your (expletive) job. Why did i even call you if you’re not going to do your expletive job.”

“I was ticked,” Kimbol said. “So then I went over helped her up and everything. Because if I knew they were going to do this, I wouldn’t have even had to wait for them.”

Without the first responders help, Kimbol drove her to the hospital herself.

When they arrived at Sky Lakes, Vaughn didn’t have a pulse.

She died later that day.

Now, the family and Kimbol are suing Klamath County Fire District 1 on nine claims, including negligence, reckless misconduct and wrongful death. 

Their attorney, Sherwood’s Kirk Mylander says Teresa did not give up her right to be driven in the ambulance.

“It’s such a serious matter that the first responder has to have the patient sign a consent form saying I agree, I am knowingly saying don’t take me,” he said.

The lawsuit also details a meeting that took place the next day with Kimbol, fire chief Greg Davis and deputy chief Matthew Hitchcock.

It said in part:

“Chief Davis asked Kimbol, “Well, what do you want?” Kimbol replied, “What do you mean what do I want? I want you people to do your (expletive) jobs. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.” Chief Davis repeated “I’m so sorry” multiple times to Kimbol.” 

The family claims it was promised a copy of the report after KCFD1 conducted an internal investigation.

“We’ve repeatedly requested a report as to what happened,” Mylander said. “The family was told they were going to get it and then they were told they couldn’t get it.”

Eventually, a redacted copy of a report was given to the family.

They say they only got the full report after their lawsuit was filed.

We reached out to Klamath County Fire District 1, including Chief Davis, for comment, they have not responded.

Mylander said since filing the lawsuit, he’s learned that the paramedics who were on scene are still employed by the fire district.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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