RENO, NV - Friday afternoon, KOLO 8 News Now obtained police reports and dispatch transcripts detailing a disturbing response by a Reno Fire Battalion Chief during a recent rescue call in Lemmon Valley. Reno's Fire Chief described it as an isolated incident, but also says it's a learning experience as well as a game-changer.
The incident started June 17th about 4:30 in the afternoon. Reno police responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle in Sun Valley. A police report says officers found a man inside a boat attached to a truck in a dirt parking lot.
A man inside told police he was in distress. According to the police report the man was between 250 and 300 pounds.
Crews were going to need additional help to get him outside the boat, and into an ambulance. Police requested Reno Fire.
Dispatch transcripts and the police report (read them with the pdf links to the right) show Battalion Chief Winkleman told responding firemen to stand down not once but twice.
He then told REMSA to get its Bariatric Unit to help. REMSA responded that unit would be of no value at the scene.
That Battalion Chief later showed up at the scene. The report says he looked at the patient, and crews, and stood by and watched.
When Reno police asked if Truckee Meadows Fire crews could be called, Winkleman said not unless Reno Fire requested them to do so.
When asked to respond to the actions of Reno Fire in an incident which at first blush doesn't look good for his agency, Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said this.
“That's what we have corrected, so in the future, we will respond and we will assist as needed. So that won't be an issue when we move forward.”
Reno police and REMSA found a way to get the man down from the boat. The patient is now listed in good condition at Renown Medical Center.
Chief Hernandez says he doesn't know if any disciplinary action will be taken.
The patient was on the deck of the boat in the sun for about an hour before crews got him down.
The case is still under investigation.