EMTs caught cruising for dates on the clock

November 22, 2010 7:13:25 PM PST
San Jose firefighter Eric Diaz does not want to talk about the video he shot five years ago when he worked for a private ambulance company under contract to Santa Clara County. In it, he and his partner can be seen cruising for dates when they should be working.

Even though it was recorded years ago, the DVD is now a major issue in a child custody case. It is also raising new questions for those who oversee emergency services in Santa Clara County.

At the time the video was made, Diaz was on the job as an EMT for American Medical Response. But on a busy Saturday night, he was also on the prowl. If the DVD is an accurate depiction of their shift, Diaz and his partner spend the vast majority of their time trying to pick up women. Diaz used a video camera to document his finds.

Diaz and his partner stop women on the street, shout at them from the ambulance and try to get them to take off their clothes. Even though the ambulance crew is on the clock, there appears to be plenty of time for socializing.

When a group of young women ask for a picture, Diaz obliges them. But when Diaz loads the back of the ambulance with women, his partner gets worried.

Mike: "Eric, bro, you know what, I don't want to do this today."
Eric: "For real?"
Mike: "We're going to get in big f***ing trouble, dude."
Eric: "Alright, sorry."
Mike: "There's just too many, man."

Still, Diaz keeps going. He was 27 years old the night the video was made, and he never got tired of looking for a date, even at 3 a.m. at a Jack in the Box.

The I-Team showed the video to Brian Smart, program director for WestMed College, one of the major paramedic schools in the South Bay. He says Diaz acted so unprofessionally, it is difficult to watch.

"Patients call 911 because they're at their worst moment in their lives and they need us to be at our best and if we're delaying responding to someone, that's potentially going to have a negative outcome," Smart said.

A spokesperson for the Santa Clara County EMS Agency that oversees ambulance service says that it isis a personnel issue for the independent contractor, AMR. They would only get involved if response times were being affected.

Ambulance crews are judged by their response times -- seconds count. On the video, Diaz is chatting up yet another woman when a call comes over the radio, but he takes the time to close the deal.

Officials for the ambulance company declined to be interviewed for this story, but issued a statement that reads in part, "The actions of the individuals depicted...not only violated AMR policies, but also the trust of the citizens we serve. Their behavior was unacceptable and in no way representative of the hundreds of men and women who honorably and faithfully serve this community every day."

But the ambulance company cannot do anything about Diaz because he now works for the San Jose Fire Department. San Jose Fire now has a copy of the video. They will not say where they got it and they will not comment directly because it is a personnel issue, but they want to get a message out.

"The trust and confidence of this community is very important to the fire department and we're continuing to do everything that we can to uphold that privilege," Captain Chuck Rangel said.

There are several sexually explicit scenes on the DVD, one when Diaz was on the job, others when he was off.

The DVD is part of a child custody case. Diaz and his former girlfriend have also filed for restraining orders against each other. The matter will be decided in court next week.


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