Two Clearwater paramedics are off the street after a man they pronounced dead last week was breathing.

They were suspended by the department and the Pinellas County EMS Medical Director’s Office, WFLA reported.

The man they declared deceased is recovering in the intensive care unit and working with a speech therapist.

“His lips were blue and he was cold but I was doing CPR, and my friend was there and she was doing chest compressions. His chest was going up and down and he was making noises, so his lungs were working.” Phebe Maxwell told reporters. 

She said the medics checked her dad’s wrist and told her he was gone.

“I’m like ‘He’s still breathing!’” Phebe told the reporter. “He’s like ‘No ma’am, he’s gone, those are just his body releasing gases.’”

And, they left.

Later, a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputy who went to the home to investigate Thomas Maxwell’s death saw that he was still breathing. But, Clearwater medics were not called to return.

A Largo ambulance crew rushed Maxwell to the hospital.

Maxwell is worried about the time lapse — 28 minutes from the initial call until Largo medics arrived. 

“I’m frustrated, hurt and mad. I don’t know what this is going to do to my dad. I don’t know what kind of life he’s going to have now,” she said. 

Clearwater Fire Chief Scott Ehlers told reporters: “Upon notification of this incident, we immediately removed both fire medics from their normal duties and discontinued their abilities to provide patient care, in conjunction with the county’s medical director.” 

His statement continued: “On behalf of the city, I apologize for the actions and the inactions of our crew during this incident. We have strict policies and procedures in place that were not followed, according to our preliminary review. These two did not perform to the standard of care that our citizens expect and deserve.”

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