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Richland coroner: No way to save child

A 3-year-old boy's death Sept. 17 was not the result of a four-minute delay in transporting him to the hospital, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Monday.

An autopsy revealed that Jadan Myers-Pugh died from the H1N1 flu virus, commonly known as swine flu. Watts said the child was already dead when his mother found him in his room.

"The child had been down too long for a successful resuscitative effort," Watts said.

Jadan's death prompted a group of firefighters to speak out against a Richland County EMS policy that prohibits firefighters from driving ambulances.

Firefighters arrived on the scene first and began CPR until Richland County EMS workers arrived. Because two EMS workers were needed to care for Jadan, EMS workers waited for a second ambulance to come so someone could drive the first ambulance to the hospital.

The delay was about four minutes, according to firefighters on the scene.

The boy was transported to the hospital, less than a mile away, where he was pronounced dead.

Jadan was born with sickle-cell anemia, a blood disorder that can cause other health problems. Watts said it complicated his H1N1 virus.

His mother, Jessica Myers, had said that earlier this month Jadan had developed a persistent cough, diarrhea and a temperature. When she checked on him the morning of Sept. 17, he wasn't breathing and his fingertips were blue, she said.

According to the Out of Hospital Care Report for the fire department, the 911 call came in at 10:10 a.m., and firefighters arrived on the scene at 10:17 a.m. The scene was cleared at 10:32 a.m. The report does not mention when the ambulances arrived.

The State newspaper has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the EMS incident report, but at press time, the request had not been fulfilled.

County officials have said they give EMS workers discretion when transporting patients.

Some firefighters continued to press for a change in the Richland County policy to allow firefighters to drive ambulances in critical situations.

"I wish we would quit talking about one incident and start talking about a policy that has been going on for quite some time and is, I think, indefensible," said the Rev. Michael Bingham, a Methodist minister and chaplain for the Columbia Fire Department.

Columbia officials moved to distance themselves from Bingham's comments, holding a televised news conference Monday afternoon.

"Public statements that have been made by a few individuals who are associated with our department regarding this incident do not reflect the official views of the Columbia Fire Department or the city of Columbia," Fire Chief Bradley Anderson said. "We do not condone those statements."

Anderson did say his department was conducting an administrative review "of the circumstances surrounding the incident and the statements made by persons associated with our department."

Anderson declined to answer questions from a reporter.

Jadan is the third child in South Carolina to die from the H1N1 virus.

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