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Paramedic resigned after Chapel Hill player died

Posted March 20, 2009

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— An Orange County paramedic resigned last August, two weeks after treating a Chapel Hill High School football player who later died.

Atlas Fraley, 17, was a senior offensive guard and defensive tackle for Chapel Hill High who participated in an Aug. 12 scrimmage at Middle Creek High in Apex. His parents found him unresponsive in their home that evening.

Medical examiners were unable to find a definite cause of death, but they said Fraley had a history of cramping and similar symptoms, which could have combined with dehydration to result in a "fatal cardiac event or even an acute asthmatic attack," according to an autopsy report released Wednesday.

Fraley called 911 from his house shortly before 2 p.m. Aug. 12, complaining of muscle cramps and dehydration and asking paramedics to provide him with intravenous fluids.

Paramedic James Griffin went to Fraley's house and found the teen's pulse and blood pressure to be normal, according to an Orange County Emergency Services patient report released Friday by the Fraley family's attorney.

Griffin wrote in the report that Fraley wouldn't sit still for a heart monitor reading, so he advised him to keep drinking fluids. He noted several empty water bottles on a counter and wrote that Fraley said he had plenty of water and Gatorade on hand.

Griffin wrote that he tried to call Fraley's parents and, when he couldn't reach them, allowed Fraley to sign a discharge form.

It wasn't stated on the form if Fraley refused to be taken to a hospital.

Griffin resigned from Orange County Emergency Services on Aug. 27. He had worked with the agency for almost nine years.

Orange County Emergency Services officials cited personnel and medical privacy regulations Wednesday in declining to release details of their internal investigation of the case.

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  • littlegramma Mar 20, 2009

    THe paramedic is also suffering, tho no one denies the parents are, but most humans when faced with a life-or-death situation will have feelings of remorse, sometimes overwhelmingly, when the situation doesn't turn out well, similar to survivors' guitl. Plus, after as many years on the job as he had, it all probably all caught up with him and he needed to walk away. Bless him and the boys parents, let hope they keep themselves more available for any other kids they may have.

  • ladyblue Mar 20, 2009

    I think the family needs to also consider the responsiblilty of this one. That child is too overweight to be out there in such streneous exercise IMO. People are so quick to bury a loved one and jump on the wagon to make someone else pay. Not all things are controlled by humans..........

  • For-Better-Or-Worse Mar 20, 2009

    There are four parts to prove negligence

    -duty to act
    -breach of duty
    -proximate cause (breech was actual case of injury)
    -result in damage (injury caused by neglegence)

    It will never go to court.

  • rajstapes Mar 20, 2009

    why did he resign if he didn't feel like he did anything wrong? seems like there is some hidden guilt here. the true sufferers here are the parents! unless you have personally gone through the loss of a child, you could not begin to know what it feels like. where is the compassion? try trading places with this family. they are the ones that have to pass by an empty room at night that used to occupy their child!!

  • littlegramma Mar 20, 2009

    I feel for the paramedic. He has only so much leeway in treating patients, and if the p doesn't want to be treated, then he can't force it on him. He, nor the paramedic's bosses should be sued, the parents of the kid weren't available so they have noone to blame but themselves. Tho noone is really to blame, but where were they that they couldnt be found to help their own child? The para. did everything within his legal responsiblities and tried to help the kid, but the kid didn't want the help, like wral said...kids this age are more into playing (and so are some of their parents) than thinking ahead and protecting their futures. I'm sorry for the tragedy, and hope the paramedic can find some peace and the kid's parents are wiser than the posters who think they should sue. HOpe any case gets thrown out before progressing anywhere!

  • MamaDummy Mar 20, 2009

    All the litigation in the world will not bring him back. I still think it shows greed and disrespect to want money for the loss of one's life..my personal opinion...I really dont care who disagrees..I am in the legal profession and I see greedy people every day..and again, if they say, I am not in it for the money, they are in it for the money. Sickening...

  • DougWare.NET Mar 20, 2009

    As a former EMT, the only mistake I can decision I can see that the Paramedic made was allowing a 17 year old to sign a release. However, this goes both ways as well, Mr Fraley who was 17 had no legal right to give consent for treatment. The Paramedic could have only treated him with parent's permission or stabilize Mr Fraley if he was unconscious/unresponsive.

    The Paramedic was in a catch 22, and I promise that this decision will haunt him for the rest of his life.

    My prayers are with the family of Mr Fraley and the Paramedic.

  • wraltv Mar 20, 2009

    Commonsensical -

    Are you for real? I would MUCH rather have an experienced EMT/Paramedic than someone who is unseasoned responding to mine or anyone else's emergency needs.

    The job is stressful, for certain, but many of these folks take great delight in being able to make a difference in someone's life.

    It is horrible that such an unforeseen tragedy like this occurred, but I have a son that plays college football, and these guys think they know everything and are impervious, which the contrary is true. He has on more than one occasion, rejected medical attention for fear that he would be sidelined. I am finding this out even more so since he's gone to college.

  • medic208 Mar 20, 2009

    After reading the EMS run report, all I can do is shake my head and say WOW! It's pretty clear that this will end up in litigation.

    Regarding the other comment... you are correct, there is a high burnout rate in EMS. I worked full time on an ambulance for 8 years before getting burned out 3 years ago. Although I enjoy the medical field, I would never work on an ambulance again.

  • meh2 Mar 20, 2009

    Child would not sit still? That's a concern. I wonder what else the EMT could have done.

    Sorry for the family's loss.

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