Once more … with feeling.

Just want to post one more thing about the arbitrator’s decision to reinstate Josie  Dimon to her job …

I spent a bit of time yesterday reading the actual decision document written by the arbitrator when Dave from 2PJ emailed me the link, and I would just like to say that I stand by my “couldn’t be further from Switzerland if he or she was on Alderaan” statement about the arbitrator.

1.  In a supposedly un-biased opinion handed down by an un-biased person, we find this VERY biased language:

In the second paragraph, BAM:

Wow. They jump right into that don’t they? Sounds like he’s setting something up, because it is a well known fact that Pittsburgh didn’t expect to get hit by that much snow. The NWS was forecasting 4 to 8 inches:

The storm was initially forecast to bring the Pittsburgh area 4–8 inches of snow, but the storm moved farther north than expected leading to explosive accumulations.

I even asked the weather people on twitter:

So right there off the bat, the arbitrator is showing bias.

2.  “No causal connection between anything the Grievant did or failed to do and the tragic death has been established whatsoever.”

However, it goes on:

“The conduct of others in this ugly and lamentable storm scenario was arguably far more culpable than that of the Grievant. The media pounced on the decision of the Director of Public Safety to go partying in the mountains when a major storm was known to be approaching metropolitan Pittsburgh.”

First, it sounds to me like the arbitrator is saying that Lukey and Huss going to Seven Springs had a MORE DIRECT CULPABILITY FOR THIS DEATH than the actual paramedic that refused to offer aid?!

Second, “Partying in the mountains?”

This is legal speak? This is unbiased opinion?

Not “The public safety director departed the city proper to visit a mountain resort as the storm approached,” but “HE WENT PARTYING IN THE MOUNTAINS.”


3. Moving on:

You know why it sounds like a lame excuse? Because she’s not on audio saying, “Well, gosh. It would be a travesty if he walked here and couldn’t find us because he went another way.” She’s on audio saying, “We ain’t waiting all day. This ain’t no fucking cab service.”

4.  Onward:

The fiasco of February 6, 2010 entailed miscommunication, but not malicious neglect of duty. The Grievant and her partner paramedic walked to patients before and after the call in question. Hazelwood is a neighborhood that these two paramedics were not familiar with and it can be scary …

So, it’s okay to not render aid if you find the neighborhood scary?!

I bet there are paramedics reading this right now thinking of all the scary places they’ve had to enter to render aid and not once did they say, “Ooooh. I can’t go there. It’s too scary!” They said, “Onward.”

Read the opinion for yourself, particularly the part where the arbitrator outlines all the ways the dying man could have walked to the ambulance, not realizing that means there were several ways the paramedics could have chosen to walk to the dying man.

Snowmageddon was a disaster in every way, from snow removal to 911 dispatching to an absent Mayor, etc. and there is a lot of blame to be passed around for Mr. Mitchell’s death. The Union and the arbitrator would do well to realize that a great deal of that blame should rest heavily on Josie Dimon’s shoulders and should remain there.


  1. empirechick
    February 16, 2011 11:15 am

    The arbiter’s report compleltely reeks of bias, agreed. But why no outrage that her partner wasn’t also fired? Surely he/she could have insisted they walk to the residence.

    What about the fact that the CALLER canceled the call (several times)? What about the other units who went that day and didn’t walk to the house? What about the fact that the patient was complaining of stomach pain, NOT shortness of breath or something else that would have indicated a serious condition?

    I admit that I was on your side yesterday, and I still agree that unions generally do too much to protect lousy workers. But further reading into this case has changed my mind.

    Lots of people are to blame here, but Josie Dimon is the only one recorded cussing. That’s why she was fired.

  2. Virginia
    February 16, 2011 11:17 am

    She was also the acting chief of that unit.

    And why use an admittedly biased report to form/change an opinion?

  3. Margaret
    February 16, 2011 11:21 am

    Ginny, I’m curious – can this decision still be appealed and possibly overturned by someone somewhere? I’m not very familiar with this process.

  4. lovesthenorthside
    February 16, 2011 11:28 am

    as i posted yesterday, not only should dimon be fired, but the entire crew should be fired.

    and michael huss, who had a hand in the fiasco that led to the death of 3 city of pittsburgh police officers, is living proof of someone who indeed rises above his level of competence.

  5. Amy
    February 16, 2011 11:29 am

    “Scary” neighborhood is code… for black and poor. The arbitrator should be ashamed of implying that people deserve to die because of where they live.

  6. empirechick
    February 16, 2011 11:35 am

    I didn’t change my mind based on this report. In yesterday’s post, Dave @ #113 linked to the scribd notes/report from an internal review.


    Dimon was told that Mr. Mitchell was going to walk out to them, he just needed to get dressed. He didn’t come, Dimon question where he was (crudely, yes, but she wasn’t talking to a patient), dispatch called Mr. Mitchell back, he said he wasn’t able to walk out, he would call back later.

    I don’t see how Dimon could have known that Mr. Mitchell’s condition was more serious than stomach pain. And apparently no other crew who went that day did either, and until the end, the calls from Mr. Mitchell’s house never said it was anything more than stomach pain.

  7. Michelle Smiles
    February 16, 2011 11:36 am

    This whole thing makes me very sad and very angry.

  8. BeauJacques
    February 16, 2011 11:36 am


    One-party, totally corrupt, machine politics, preening shiteaters all of them!!

    On our dime!

    And YOU (City of Pgh) voted for them!!!

  9. Erin
    February 16, 2011 11:42 am

    Who was the arbitrator who wrote this report? I couldn’t find the name. Embarrassing.

  10. empirechick
    February 16, 2011 11:43 am

    In reading the scribd report, Josie Dimon is on Medic 8, on page 6: “The caller states they can come back later.”

  11. Cindy T.
    February 16, 2011 11:51 am

    I’ve been holding back until I can no longer. I only wish that we as human beings could have all acted together on this one. When things get down to it and suddenly we are all thrust into emergency mode, isn’t that what we are supposed to do? I live in Hazelwood so I am familiar with the neighborhood and conditions at the time. I actually was out the first night of the blizzard (Friday) in my Jeep picking up my son from work in Homestead after the buses stopped running (9:00 p.m.). I was out again on Saturday afternoon checking on my mother and going to the store (not for milk or bread). I only wish I would have known about this poor man’s problem. I was able to make it around and I would have gladly driven down to his house, picked him up and taken him to an ambulance or the fire station. Couldn’t someone have thought of that? Using their personal vehicle if the ambulance or fire truck could not get through. If this would happen again, could we use the television and radio (if we have not lost power) to broadcast emergency alerts to let people know hey someone is in trouble over here. Send some help…anyone…please just help. I’m just asking.

  12. Sooska
    February 16, 2011 12:21 pm

    In part I think this whole thing was a snow job by the Ravenstahl administration. In part. Perhaps not wholly. A man lost his life because of bureaucratic nonsense and lack of accountability. This woman is not the only one to blame here.

    Why did Lukey release this 911 tape when they have steadfastly refused to release information of any kind on the investigation into the Jordan Miles case, or the G-20 protests among others?

    Was this Lukey’s attempt to deflect attention from himself and his trip to Seven Springs while Pittsburgh was undergoing snow emergency lockdown? Was he trying to deflect attention from the Public Works failures? the Public Safety failures? (There was more than one I believe.)

    sign me- Just Wondering What Luke Was Doing Then and What He is Doing Now

  13. unsatisfied
    February 16, 2011 12:39 pm

    one question…

    if josie dimon was concerned that she and the other EMT who responded might miss mr. mitchell if they walked one way and he walked another — why didn’t either she or the other EMT stay behind at the ambulance in case mr. mitchell did go another way trying to get to the ambulance?

  14. Butcher's Dog
    February 16, 2011 12:54 pm

    Simple but not easy:
    By school law PA public school teachers can be fired, regardless of tenure or seniority, for any one of four I’s: Incompetence, Intemperence, Immorality, and Insubordination. Apply that same standard to any and all public employees, union or not. Include the arbitrators in that pool. Yes, some of those things are difficult to prove. Yes, some are open to interpretation. However, weed out those requiring weeding and the rest will certainly deserve the pay and benefits they get. Can’t speak for the $100K bus drivers, BeauJacques, but I’m thinking the rest will be worth what they get.

  15. Pa-pop
    February 16, 2011 1:07 pm

    Has a wrongful death suit been brought forward on this? At a minimum, the EMS crew and the City of Pittsburgh should be named as defendants.

  16. Julia
    February 16, 2011 1:30 pm

    @#15, yes, I believe a lawsuit has been in the works for a few months now, at least. That won’t change even if this woman is reinstated.

    This is kind of complicated. I don’t believe that one person should take all the blame for a series of events that led to an unfortunate ending. So for that, shame on Mr. Huss, the Mayor, and other administration heads for not saying “No, I was not directly to blame. But under my watch, I am fully responsible for the actions of all my staff. Put your blame on me, not them.” That’s part of what I believe makes a quality leader, the ability to hold yourself accountable, even if you weren’t the one to pull the trigger (so to speak).

    But, on the other hand, it would seem that the evidence that’s been made public proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that this woman grossly neglected her duties, and as a direct result of her inaction and attitude, someone died who didn’t have to. Although I understand that there were many phone calls and other ambulances, the point is that this man died on her watch. Not anyone else’s, and it’s sad that she doesn’t seem to own up to that at all.

  17. MH
    February 16, 2011 1:34 pm

    Of course there is a lawsuit. Once again it will demonstrate that a public employee can screw-up bad enough to make the taxpayers foot a huge bill yet not badly enough to get fired.

  18. Joe K.
    February 16, 2011 1:35 pm

    The key question is what information Dimon had regarding the seriousness of Mitchell’s condition. If she was not led to believe that his condition was serious, I don’t think she can be fired. I think the arbiter mentions the partying in Seven Spring in order to make the argument that Dimon is being made a scapegoat for all of this. I find myself reluctantly agreeing with the arbiter in this case.

  19. gorillagogo
    February 16, 2011 2:13 pm

    The bottom line is that from Jamie Dimon’s perspective, she was on a low priority call. She was dispatched to give someone with abdominal pains a ride to the hospital. She did not choose to cancel the call when she was unable to reach Mitchell.

    I think the only reason she was fired in the first place was because she was recorded saying the word ‘fuck’ a few times. Her comments come across as so callous that the city was able to pin the blame on her for the whole mess. It just seems too convenient.

  20. Magnus Patris
    February 16, 2011 2:45 pm

    “The Grievant” would be a cool name for a band. (Had to insert some humor in a sad discussion).

    Hellooooo Cleveland! We’re “The Grievant”; are you ready to rock?!

  21. offissa pupp
    February 16, 2011 3:32 pm

    The EMS bureau is consistently overworked, understaffed, and underpaid. They have the highest call burden, and on some days literally run from call to call. I’ve been told by dispatch that every medic unit in the city was already on a priority call, so they couldn’t even give an ETA for an ambulance. Its not uncommon for a mutual aid ambulance from the suburbs to be called in to handle a city run, again because no city medic units were available.

    As far as the snow storm, the entire public safety preparation was bungled from the top. No bureau was provided with adequate supplies, staffing, or equipment regardless of what the boy wonder said or still says (he was quoted at one point saying that all police zones had 4-wheel drive vehicles, snow chains, and shovels in the cars…this is an absolute lie!).

    The arbitrator does sound like he or she has an ax to grind, and that is a shame because it clouds everything. The basic fact is, maybe some people should have been disciplined, but firing this one low-level supervisor was a travesty when not a single person in the administration was ever held accountable for not giving us the resources needed to adequately respond.

    (taking a breath and stepping off my soap box now)

  22. Partying in the Mountains
    February 16, 2011 3:38 pm

    All you bitches, take my shots! You should have seen my 31st birthday! We partied Berlusconi-style!

  23. toni
    February 16, 2011 4:27 pm

    empirechick said: What about the fact that the patient was complaining of stomach pain, NOT shortness of breath or something else that would have indicated a serious condition?

    Wait….what makes you think stomach pain ISN’T a serious condition???? What gives you or that paramedic the right to make that assumption???? What makes you think that a man who is in distress with stomach pain can gauge the degree of seriousness of his condition????

    Do you know the number of people I have seen in the ER that think their ailments aren’t as serious as they really are???!!!

    Unless anyone is a qualified doctor with a ream of diagnostic tests and lab work in front of them you NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING!!!! You error on the side of caution by acting as if an ailment IS serious until proven otherwise.

    Only stomach pain???? Let me give you a list of SERIOUS, LIFE THREATENING stomach pain:

    Bowel blockage
    Bowel Infarction
    Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
    Ectopic Pregnancy
    Stomach Cancer

    And those are only a few. In short, stomach pain can be cause by any number of diseases and conditions of the multitude of organs that lie in the abdominal cavity in addition to pain being felt in the stomach from organs like the kidneys and the lungs. Or it maybe nothing but a bad case of gas.

    You don’t know. I don’t know. And that paramedic damn sure didn’t know either.

  24. Former EMS (NON union)
    February 16, 2011 4:30 pm

    I feel compelled to post here everyone.

    First, I am ashamed. It is utterly ridiculous that THIS FORUM is the only place commentary is being posted. No slight against Virginia intended, but where are the supposed media editorials on the major news outlets (I.E. Post-Gazette, Trib Review, Newscasts.). Do not any of the people of Pittsburgh have a view on this? Is everyone else afraid to stick their neck out?

    Second, I am also disgusted. This whole event and its outcomes are deplorable. I am sickened on several fronts, but primarily with the Arbitrator and EMS crew. The arbitrator has done nothing here that, in my opinion, is right. The only thing accomplished is the complete removal of ANY accountability. Attempting to misplace the direct actions of the EMS crew’s lack of action on the Mayor and the Public Safety Director is utterly ridiculous. Was either Mayor Lukey or the Public Safety Director there? In the bus, waiting on the patient to arrive, directing the EMS crew NOT to respond? Were they manning the 911 line?

    Let’s take a step back and look at this with the objectivity that so clearly failed the Arbitrator. Were the Mayor and PSD wrong to be out of town? Yes, no, debatable. It was 4 inches, no 12 inches. It was an incorrectly forecasted storm; no it was always going to be a blizzard of epic proportions. Whatever your view Snowmageddon was, as Virginia put it, a disaster. Mishandled on all fronts by the city, but come on…really…would you expect anything different from the city of Pittsburgh in the winter? How long have we all lived here? Is it really a surprise that public works failed (again)? And to be clear and set the record straight from the start; in my opinion the Mayor and the PSD should have been here. After all, what is wrong with the Mayor celebrating (and financially supporting) the local businesses in celebration of his birthday. Particularly when he knew bad weather (of some sort and amount) was coming. Would he not want to be here to oversee things? Same questions apply to the PSD.
    However, those issues are not what should be the point of this debate, and as a consequence ALL of that should be set aside. To boil it down to the simplest form the true issue here is the failure of a Paramedic/Ambulance crew to act. As EMS personnel the crew had an ethical and moral obligation to attend to the sick and injured. IT IS THEIR JOB! In response to the crew lead’s comment of not running a taxi service…um, yeah…you are! Your job (again) is to treat and transport the sick and injured to medical facilities. If not for this simple truth why does this job/position/function even exist? They are intended as the front line of pre-hospital care.

    So given this I will ask the following question: Why is the Arbitrator removing the accountability from the EMS TEAM (yes, I too think that the whole crew should have been fired) for failure to do the job they were assigned? This was (or should have been stated as) the main reason the EMS crew chief was suspended and ultimately fired. They FAILED to do their job. I’m sorry; did nobody wear their OSHA certified steel toe boots that night? Were they unable to walk down the road looking for potential patients headed their direction? Did neither have a radio on their belt? Were they unable to communicate with one another or inform dispatch that they were mobile in the direction of the patient and to inform the spouse? Were they unable to improvise a possible means to transport the patient back out to the ambulance? (I’m thinking a toboggan sled would have worked great.) Telling the ambulance crew to go away/come back later does not constitute a legit excuse. (Was it said out of frustration with the situation?) How did dispatch/the crew know the call-off was legit? It was serious enough to call 911 initially, it is up to the Paramedic to evaluate the patient and transport or obtain a refusal document plain and simple. Anything else is just neglect, and in this instance it cost another person their life. Shame on the EMS crew and shame on the Arbitrator.

    Yes, shame on the Mayor, the PSD, Public Works, and all others involved as well.

    Final thoughts:
    @#8 Beaujacques: Really my friend? That is what you’re bringing to the discussion? It is true, but has little bearing. Perhaps a little less anger and a little more coherent thought out sentences?

    @#12 Sooska: Yes on lack of accountability (on all fronts). But Political Snowjob? And, I’m sorry how do Jordan Miles and G-20, as well as the release of those tapes/info (or lack thereof) relate to THIS issue? After all of this do you honestly think that any issue in this matter was deflected? Conspiracy much? And many wonder what exactly the Mayor is doing.

    @#11 Cindy T: Amen. There should be more people like you. We should all strive to do so actually.

  25. RedInDaBurgh
    February 16, 2011 5:00 pm

    Fact: A man died that night. Without ever having been evaluated in person by a paramedic or any other medical professional.

  26. Betoon
    February 16, 2011 5:15 pm

    I was angered when I heard the report on the results of the arbitration. And I’m glad that there is a forum to talk about it. I think the thing that da Mayor has the hardest time with is responsibility. Good with the Zelig routine, bad with the “having a vision and doing my job routine.” Lots of what ifs out there if other mayors left their posts during tough times whether caused by nature or bad press. There is a job to do – and the message being sent out is do it unless something better comes up. The EMS crew – sounds like a lot of fear. Fear of getting stuck, fear of the neighborhood, fear of too much responsibility. @#24 – well said and from someone who should know.

  27. BeauJacques
    February 16, 2011 6:30 pm

    @Former EMS (NON union) –

    Please refer to thGinny’s prior blog entry “loud noises” for my lengthier, thoughtful, eloquent, and suggestion-filled comments; I cut to the chase in this one!

  28. Ms. Redd
    February 16, 2011 6:54 pm

    Why couldn’t one of the EMTs walk to the house, assess the situation and ask for a snow plow to allow the ambulance to get through? As for it being a scary neighborhood, if the storm was that bad and the snow that deep, probably even muggers wouldn’t be out in it.

  29. bluzdude
    February 16, 2011 11:58 pm

    All I’ll say is that people use loaded phrasing and heavyweight terms when they can’t win a point on facts alone.

  30. Former EMS (NON union)
    February 17, 2011 1:42 pm

    @#26 Betoon: Thanks for the vote of confidence

    @#27 Beaujacques: I stand corrected thank you for the redirect

    @#29 Bluzdude: Who is unable to win a point on facts? Can you point out some loaded phrasing to support your case? To what would you be referring with “Heaveyweight Terms”? AND, what the heck is in the Stanley Cups on your blog page…looks like huge raisins. Inquiring minds want to know.

  31. bluzdude
    February 17, 2011 4:16 pm

    @Former EMS
    I’m referring to the language that Ginny pointed out in the arbitor’s finding. To me, use of prejudicial phrasing indicates a weak argument.

    “Partying in the mountains.”
    “The media pounced on the decision.”
    “lame excuse.”

    These are all phrases that should stick to fevered emails that get passed around, not ones that should be found in a formal document like an arbitor’s decision.

    Might you have been assuming I was referring to commenters? If so, I apologize, I was coming in relatively late and was only referring to the orignial post; not the extended back and forth in comments.

    And on my site, it’s bacon that’s filling the Stanley Cups. That’s a running theme with me. (The bacon, not necessarily its placement in The Cup.)

  32. Former EMS (NON union)
    February 17, 2011 4:27 pm


    No No…was not assuming. I was genuinely interested in your thoughts.

    If I may comment on your thoughts, well said. There is no reason for an “impartial” party to taint a legal and binding document with such partial colored comments.

    And also if I may…”mmmmm Bacon.” (This comedy moment brought to you by Homer Simpson).

  33. Megan
    February 17, 2011 5:33 pm

    If the arbitor is saying that one reason the EMS chose not to walk to the house is because Hazelwood is a “scary” neighborhood, doesn’t that open up the way for a huge lawsuit against the city? Can an EMS refuse to go to someone’s house because they’re nervous about the neighborhood?

  34. megrcam51
    February 17, 2011 7:55 pm

    Perhaps Ms. Dimon should be referred to another career considering she valued getting her pants wet in the snow over a human life. I am not an EMS worker because I admit I couldn’t handle it, I think it’s time Ms. Dimon admitted the same thing. Being a kind person who wants to save people clearly isn’t her cup of tea.

    By the way, I pray that empirechick or her family never needs an EMS called and I certainly pray that Ms. Dimon isn’t dispatched because I am guessing if it was her or a family member in the Mitchell’s position, she’d have a different tune.