Local News

Orange Rescue Squad sues over 'stand down' order

Posted April 7, 2009 10:14 a.m. EDT

— The Orange County Rescue Squad filed suit Monday against the county and its emergency medical services director, claiming that an order to "stand down" was illegally issued last summer and has harmed the squad's operations.

The suit seeks $1.2 million in damages and a court order rescinding the June 27 order to stand down and compelling the county to again use the rescue squad's services.

EMS Director F. Rojas Montes de Oca removed OCRS from the 911 system after receiving reports that questioned the squad's competence and professionalism. Volunteers with the squad defended themselves against the complaints, saying the allegations were untrue or were taken out of context.

After an extensive review, Montes de Oca allowed OCRS to return to limited service in December. The squad now provides service for special events, overflow medical calls and search-and-rescue operations on land. It responds to vehicle wrecks only if requested by a local fire department with limited resources.

The lawsuit alleges Montes de Oca never gave OCRS written warning or held a hearing on the allegations before issuing the stand-down order, violating the squad's constitutional rights. Montes de Oca also libeled OCRS by issuing a report detailing the allegations against the squad when he knew the claims were false, the suit charges.

OCRS is now treated differently from other rescue squads that have similar franchise agreements with the county, which has harmed it financially, according to the suit.

County officials weren't immediately available Tuesday for comment.