Pensacola, Florida
Friday July 19th 2019

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More What-ifs with Escambia EMS

By Jeremy Morrison

When Annie Mosley heard about the Florida Department of Health’s investigation into Escambia County’s Emergency Medical Services, she thought back to her son’s death last year and realized perhaps the experience wasn’t an isolated incident.

“It had to be more than my son for them to investigate,” Mosley said recently, sitting inside her Pensacola home on West Intendencia Street.

In March, the state opened an investigation into Escambia’s EMS following an internal county assessment in which newly-hired Medical Director Rayme Edler pointed out several areas of concern within the department. Though county officials have declined to discuss the issue pending the conclusion of the state investigation, a former director of Escambia’s Public Safety Department has been brought in to conduct an internal review of the department and will be issuing an initial report May 9.

Thus far, and with the exception of some cryptic, around-the-edges conversations amongst county commissioners and staff during public meetings, vague resignation letters from departing county officials or Edler’s recent request to retrain all EMTs, Escambia’s citizens are left to wonder what exactly is going on with EMS as they await the wrap of the state investigation.

Some people are left contemplating their own experiences with the county’s EMS and wondering whether things might have gone differently. Mosley, at least, is sure she knows the answer to this question. She already believed the service her son received after calling emergency services due to shortness of breath attributed to his death, and the recent revelations about the state investigation have only reaffirmed those feelings.

“Yes, yes I do,” Mosley said. “I just believe myself that they are responsible for my son’s death. I’ll never know, but I believe, and they can’t tell me nothing different.”

That Last Walk
The memory of that terrible afternoon last September seems seared into Annie Mosley’s mind. She said on the phone, as she thought of reliving that day with the media, she would always remember.

“I won’t never forget,” she said, “not ‘til my tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth.”

Standing on her front porch, Mosley points out particulars of the scene as if it’s recurring in perpetuity where her son stumbled down the front steps, where the ambulance was parked.

“See where that dead grass is right there?” Mosley asked, motioning to a dead patch. “That’s where the stretcher was. And it never grew back.”

Around the yard are small palms, a flock of ceramic geese and thoughtfully arranged flowerbeds. Roosevelt Stevenson, Jr., made sure his mom’s property looked nice.

“We had a lovely time,” Mosley said, looking into the distant sky of a Pensacola afternoon. “He was 58-years-old, but he still said ‘yes, ma’am’ and ‘no, ma’am’ to me.”

Inside the house, the grieving mother points out a collection of photographs. Roosevelt at graduation. Roosevelt in the U.S. Air Force. Roosevelt fishing.

“That fish, right there,” Mosley pointed to the photo, “he caught that a couple of days before he died.”

Mosley’s son, who lived in Virginia with his family—in addition to his mother and daughter, Stevenson left behind a wife and two children, as well as one grandchild—died while visiting in Pensacola. He had just enjoyed a bite to eat at his mother’s house and then told her he wasn’t feeling too good.

“He said, ‘Would you check me out?’ Cause I worked in nursing for 35 years,” Mosley recalled.

Stevenson was complaining of difficulty breathing, and Mosley called 911. According to Mosley, it took a while for the ambulance to arrive—“I said, ‘You didn’t come to take my son to the beach; you came to take him somewhere to get help.’”—and when EMS did arrive, she didn’t feel the medics took her son’s condition seriously.

“They didn’t give him oxygen; they didn’t give him nothing,” Mosley said.

Dianne Mosley, Stevenson’s sister, was also present. She said that the paramedics didn’t appear prepared to offer much in the way of aid.

“They didn’t have the little toolbox you normally carry. They didn’t have on gloves. They weren’t prepared to do anything,” his sister concluded.

According to Stevenson’s family, the paramedics declined to bring a stretcher inside the house and instead asked the patient to walk out into the yard.

“The guy outside asked the other guy in the house, ‘Can he walk?’” Dianne Mosley said.

Stevenson’s mother points to a recliner sitting near a television.

“He walked from right here. This is where he was sitting,” she said.

Stevenson made it out the front door, but he had some trouble on the steps leading from the porch to the yard. And then things got bad pretty quick.

“He tumbled; he didn’t actually hit the ground ‘cause there’s a rail he grabbed,” recalled his sister, explaining how her brother almost fell on the stairs.

Stevenson’s mother remembers running out to the front yard after her son had been put into the ambulance. She remembers flinging open the ambulance and seeing the medics working over her son.

“They were doing chest compressions when I pulled that door open,” Mosley said. “I hollered and told my daughter, “Your brother’s dead!”

Mosley said they requested an autopsy following Stevenson’s death but none was performed. She said her son’s death was officially listed as a PE, or pulmonary embolism, but that she considers that “speculation.”

Mosley said that no one from the state health department has contacted her in regards to the current investigation concerning Escambia’s EMS.

“There ain’t no one contact us,” she said, “except for that Edler lady. She came out here.”

Following Stevenson’s death, Mosley contacted Escambia County with her concerns about the service received from EMS. She said that Dr. Edler, the medical examiner, visited her house after hearing about the issue and told the family that the EMS staff was in the process of getting more training.

Dianna Mosley recalled that former Public Safety Director Mike Weaver also heard the family’s concerns but told them that the call had been conducted appropriately.

“Mike Weaver said, ‘I’m sorry we can’t make you understand my men did everything they could.’ I said, ‘Why are you lying?’” she recalled.

Both Stevenson’s mother and sister appear convinced that this death could have been prevented if first responders had taken different actions. They are second-guessing the decision not to provide oxygen, second-guessing the decision not to bring a stretcher inside the house.

Second-guessing, even, the specifics of Stevenson’s death.

“My son died because of their lack of interest,” Mosley said, before suggesting that Stevenson died while in the care of EMS. “They pronounced him dead at Baptist Hospital, but that’s a lie. He was already dead.”

The Lawsuit Factor
Mosley recently spent her first Easter since her son’s death. It was his birthday. She spent most of it at the cemetery.

“He turned 59 Easter Sunday,” Mosley said, then considered the approaching Mother’s Day. “I know that’s gonna be tough.”

Regardless of the findings of the state investigation into Escambia’s EMS, or any resulting changes or improvements that are made within the department, Mosley’s son isn’t coming back. He died last fall, and nothing can change that.

But Mosley is clear on how she would like to see her son’s circumstances addressed. Because she feels the county’s EMS did not provide adequate care to her son, she would like to realize some monetary restitution for his surviving family.

“I want financial; that’s what I want,” Mosley said.