Ambulance policy review is sought Some Annapolis residents want a probe to focus on mayor's role

August 13, 1991|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Evening Sun Staff

The mayor of Annapolis said he welcomes a review of Fire Department policy following the death of a man who had to be treated by a back-up Anne Arundel County ambulance crew because a city crew was transporting Gov. William Donald Schaefer's longtime companion, Hilda Mae Snoops, to Baltimore with the mayor's authorization.

Some Annapolis residents, however, want more of an investigation, and they want it to focus on the mayor.

Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins last night issued a statement and memorandum before the City Council asking for the Public Safety Committee to look at policy.

"I would welcome such a review," Hopkins said. "Ambulance service is a very technical and complex issue, as I have learned."

However, one Annapolis resident asked that the council's Ethics Commission look into the incident and focus on Hopkins' role.

"I sympathize with the position the mayor was put in," said Annapolis resident Irma Sponsler. "But as mayor he should have known better. If anybody in the city should know the city code, it's Mayor Hopkins."

Hopkins said when he authorized the use of one of the city's two ambulances to transport Snoops to Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, he knew nothing of any earlier denial by the Fire Department for service.

"I am neither a public safety expert nor a trained medical person, but I deemed a call for service from a State Police captain charged with the governor's mansion security to be an emergency," Hopkins said.

Snoops, who reportedly is suffering from an undisclosed illness, fell in the Governor's Mansion late July 24. Her doctor, who has no privileges to practice at Anne Arundel General Hospital and Medical Center, several blocks from the mansion, requested that she be taken to Baltimore.

City policy for emergency ambulance service is that patients are to be transported to the nearest available hospital. People wishing to be taken to a more distant hospital must make arrangements with a private ambulance service.

While one of the city's ambulances was transporting Snoops to Baltimore, and a second was out on a call, 71-year-old Thomas C. Sharps went into cardiac arrest. A county ambulance responded to the call, but Sharps subsequently died.

Hopkins said anyone questioning his motivation in authorizing the service should take into account that he was asked to make the decision in an emergency situation.

"At a time such as this, one does not take the time to discuss, debate or investigate when dealing with what is believed to be an emergency situation," Hopkins said. "Action was called for and my decision was to take the action."

Former Annapolis Mayor Roger "Pip" Moyer told Hopkins and the council he agreed with the mayor's decision to provide service to Snoops. Moyer said that when he was mayor he several times authorized the use of ambulance service to Baltimore -- once for his mother and another time for a stranger.

"I'd make the same decision again," Moyer said. "If you [Hopkins] erred, you erred trying to do a favor."

But Annapolis resident Trudy McGowan said there's a problem with politicians doing each other a favor.

"I just don't think politicians should use other politicians," she said. "You can investigate until you turn green."

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