The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Cops, courts and fires

April 3, 2013

Fire chief: Medics didn’t do anything wrong

ANDERSON, Ind. — Leaving an ambulance open and on is standard operating procedure, according to Anderson Fire Department Chief Phil Rogers.

And because of that, he determined the two medics who had their ambulance stolen early Friday morning didn’t do anything wrong.

Joseph L. Sandlin, 27, of Anderson, remains in Madison County Jail on $10,000 bond for allegedly absconding with City Ambulance 83503, crashing into five parked cars and wrecking the ambulance into a tree in a yard at about 4 a.m. Friday in the 1700 block of Main Street, according to a probable cause affidavit of the incident.

Fire Department Medic 1, including medics Cody Ison and Todd Cawthorn, was responding to a call at the Delaware Court Apartments in the 100 block of West 10th Street. While Ison and Cawthorn attended to a patient, Sandlin allegedly jumped into the running ambulance and started on the rampage.

Sandlin later told detectives he was trying to find a police car to wreck into “so they would shoot me.” He also told officers he had taken hydrocodone and bath salts, according to the report.

Rogers said the medics didn’t act inappropriately by leaving the vehicle open and running. Medics are required to keep their ambulances on during response situations because some materials inside need to remain at certain temperatures

“We also have to keep them on in case we need to get a patient in and out in a hurry and over to the hospital,” Rogers said. “They’re both excellent medics and they followed procedure. They were in good hands, it’s just unfortunate something like that happened.”

Still, Rogers said the incident is being investigated and procedures might be changed or adjusted based on research results.

“It’s such a rare case. Most people see an ambulance and take it for what it is,” the fire chief said.

The cost of the incident is still being adjusted, but Anderson Police Department Det. Joel Sandefur said there was significant property damage. The ambulance alone is valued at a little more than $150,000, according to the affidavit.

Sandlin, pending results of the investigation and felony charges filed against him, remains financially liable for the damage caused to the vehicles, said Rogers who added that the city’s insurance should cover damage done to the ambulance.

Sandlin faces charges of high-value theft, auto theft, operating while intoxicated and operating without a valid license. He was also wanted on a warrant.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said he doubts Sandlin’s ability to cover the damage he caused.

“Unfortunately, it will probably end up being paid for by the taxpayers,” Cummings said.

Find Jack Molitor on Facebook and @AggieJack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.

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