Paramedics incident in Oslo 2007

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The paramedics incident in Oslo (Norwegian: ambulansesaken) involved two paramedics and their ambulance being dispatched to Sofienberg park in Norways capital city on 6 August 2007. At the scene, the paramedics called their headquarters saying that it was a police matter, and in their opinion not a medical emergency. The paramedics left the scene, after police had contacted them and the subject of the dispatch (an apparent victim of being punched by a third party).

The events[edit]

Ali Farah, a Somali Norwegian man, was apparently physically assaulted and hit in the head by a 23-year-old male from Ghana while he was having a picnic in the park with friends and family.[1][2] Farah was knocked to the ground after asking the attacker and his friends to tone down what Farah perceived to be rowdy behaviour. After the attack Farah's friends called for an ambulance which arrived on the scene approximately 15 minutes later. However, the ambulance paramedic crew decided not to take Farah to the hospital on the grounds that he seemed to be intoxicated and urinated, with the urine hitting first the trouser leg of one of the paramedics and then the ambulance car.[3] The paramedics requested that a police patrol that was present on the scene take Farah to the hospital. The ambulance left shortly thereafter, leaving Farah in the park. He was then transported in a taxi by his friends to a medical centre, where it was determined that the injury to his head was life-threatening. He was diagnosed with intracranial hemorrhage and had to be operated, after which he also developed meningitis. He had to spend some time in artificial coma, but eventually recovered.

The decision by the paramedics to leave Farah in the park led to a massive outcry when the story first broke in the Norwegian media and accusations of blatant racism were directed towards the paramedics by several politicians and leading figures, including Beate Gangås, the Norwegian Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud. The paramedics were eventually removed from active duty due to their handling of the case and they were also fined for failing to give proper duty of care to Farah. Several subsequent inquiries and a court found that the paramedics' actions, while "indefensible" and "unprofessional", could not be shown to be an act of racial discrimination.[4][5]

Versions of events[edit]

Investigations[edit]

After several investigations into this matter, it has been shown that the way the media covered the event was wrong, and among others, Dagbladet.no has had to pay 1 million in restitution to Erik Schjenken. The legal actions against the paramedics have clearly shown they did not break any laws or act like racists.

The paramedics version of the events[edit]

The paramedics stated that they conducted a thorough medical examination of the victim when they first arrived on the scene and that they reached the conclusion that the victim wasn’t in need of urgent medical assistance. They also stated that the victim was standing up and walking around when they arrived and that he was not lying down on the ground like the pictures that were eventually published in the media showed. They also stated that the victim urinated on the ambulance and one of the paramedics and that this was the reason why they asked the police officers that were present on the scene to take Farah to the hospital. The paramedics interpreted Farah's erratic behaviour as a result of drug use and feared that he could become violent.

Ali Farah's version of events[edit]

Ali Farah and his friends state that the ambulance crew acted hostile towards them and that the paramedics did not perform a proper medical examination of the victim. They also considered the paramedics to be disrespectful towards Ali Farah owing to his ethnicity, and therefore also racists.[6]

The media coverage of the event[edit]

The case was widely covered in Norwegian media and a heated national debate ensued. Most of the media articles focused on the failure of the paramedics to properly deal with the victim, and hence portrayed this incident as one of racial discrimination. The photograph that the media used to strengthen this claim showed an injured victim lying on the ground bleeding heavily from the nose. This picture clearly contradicted the paramedic's version of events in which they claimed that Farah was standing up when they left the scene.[7]

Eventually a picture was published in the media that did support the paramedics' version in which Farah can be seen standing next to the ambulance as it is leaving the park.[8]

Timeline[edit]

  • 6 August 2007: Ali Farah was assaulted by a 23-year-old male from Ghana at 17.05 pm. The ambulance arrived on the scene at 17.13 pm. After a quick medical examination and a character assessment of the victim, the paramedics decides to leave the scene without Ali Farah at 17.20 pm. Farah's friends then managed to hail a taxicab which took Farah to a local medical centre at 17.21 pm. Farah arrived at the medical centre 5 minutes later at 17.26 pm. After a thorough medical examination of Farah a doctor decided that Farah's injuries were of such a nature that he needed urgent hospital treatment. An ambulance was requested and one arrived and eventually transported Farah to Ullevål University Hospital where he arrived at 19.13 pm. Farah was then placed in a medically induced coma at 23.00 pm.[9]
  • 11 August 2007: The 23-year-old attacker was arrested and placed in police custody for two weeks.
  • 13 August 2007: The paramedics were removed from active duty.[9]
  • 16 August 2007: Ali Farah woke up from the medical induced coma and was for the first time able to talk about the incident
  • 19 August 2007: Petter Schou, the head medical advisor to the city of Oslo, concluded that the paramedics were guilty of racism and that they had acted in an unprofessional manner.
  • 27 March 2008: The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud concluded that the paramedics were guilty of racism.[10]
  • 18 June 2008: The 23-year-old attacker was sentenced to 1 ½ years in prison by Oslo District Court. The sentence was appealed by the attacker’s legal team.[11]
  • 4 December 2008: A Norwegian court decided that Erik Schjenken, one of the paramedics, did not commit a criminal act when he left Ali Farah behind in the park.
  • 6 December 2008: Erik Schjenken lodged a complaint with the Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman for Public Administration to have legal actions taken towards 3 Cabinet Members (chiefs of Government Departments) and Dagfinn Høybråten for defamation.[12]
  • 29 February 2009: The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud reversed its initial decision from 27 March 2008 in which they had claimed that Erik Schjenken was guilty of racism, and they completely exonerated the two paramedics of any wrongdoing.
  • 10 March 2009: Erik Schjenken received a NOK 100 000 compensation payout from the Norwegian organisation, Victims of the Media. The founder of the organization Øystein Stray Spetalen, stated that he'd never seen a case where a person had been treated so unfairly by the media.[13]
  • 18 March 2009: The Parliamentary Ombudsman for Public Administration concluded that there was no legal basis for pursuing legal action against the four politicians.
  • 11 July 2011: Dagbladet appeals the court order to pay restitution to Erik Schjenken [13]
  • 11 July 2011: Documentary about how the media coverage failed in this case[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jørgen Berge (2009-03-28). "Ali-tiltalt: - Jeg ble redd". TV2 Norway. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  2. ^ Farah påvirket av hasj
  3. ^ http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/Forlatt-fordi-han-urinerte-6591949.html
  4. ^ "Schjenken handlet ikke rasistisk". Aftenposten.no. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  5. ^ Gudrun Holgersen, Lena R. Bendiksen, Sissel Markhus, Hege Skjeie, Jan Tøssebro (26. februar 2009). Sak 31/2008, vedtak. Likestillings- og diskrimineringsnemnda. Archived from the original 10. juni 2011.
  6. ^ "Anmelder ambulansesjåførene". Dagbladet.no. 2008-02-16. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  7. ^ "Årets bilde til KK-journalist". KK.no. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  8. ^ "Burde gjort mer for å frem den «andre siden»". Aftenposten.no. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  9. ^ a b "Ambulansesjåførene kan miste autorisasjonen". Dagbladet.no. 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  10. ^ Sandra Mei Ling Noer (2008-03-27). "Ali Farah ble diskriminert". Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Schjenken klaget 6.desember 2008 tre statsråder og partileder Dagfinn Høybråten inn for sivilombudsmannen som nå har saken til behandling." from Aftenposten/Kultur, 2011-06-01, page 6
  13. ^ a b http://www.webcitation.org/5fCkP9YCa
  14. ^ http://www.nrk.no/nett-tv/klipp/808007/