Déjà Vu

Advocates say University Park paramedics shunned a man with AIDS--at an AIDS awareness rally

The needle stab opened a vein, and blood began flowing out and running out on the steps, several witnesses said. "It wasn't oozing; it was pumping," says Dolezal, who says she has witnessed thousands of needle sticks and never seen anybody produce that much bleeding.

Then the paramedics attempted to inject Valium into the IV. On the first attempt, the needle appeared to break. On the second, the syringe crumbled and the liquid squirted into Dolezal's eye. "You know, when they got there, I asked them if I should move, and I was told not to, that the reason was so that I could hold the arm where the blood was," says Dolezal. The medics were wearing gloves, she said. She was not, and they didn't offer her any to protect herself.

After the fumbling with the Valium injection, several of the bystanders began pleading for the paramedics to get Vasquez into the ambulance and head for the hospital. They complied and moved him down the stone steps and onto a gurney, several witnesses said.

When AIDS patient Ricardo Vasquez suffered a seizure, University Park paramedics were reluctant to help, witnesses say.
Letitia Jenkins
When AIDS patient Ricardo Vasquez suffered a seizure, University Park paramedics were reluctant to help, witnesses say.

"I don't even know how to put it into words," said Feigenbaum, who said the medics dragged Vasquez by the shoulders. "It was horrible treatment."

Maison says the irony of this scene occurring during an event meant to heighten AIDS awareness was not lost on him. He says it was even more disappointing when contrasted with the reception his organization's volunteer bike riders received in "the hinterlands" over the previous two days during their 181-mile ride. "There was so much respect and encouragement along the route. In Decatur they made the riders brownies and homemade foods. They were excited. It had such a very nice feeling to it.

"Then right in the heart of Dallas we get this. I haven't seen this kind of response in Dallas in years."

Later last week, after Chief Ledbetter toured AIDS Services' facilities, met Vasquez, delivered his letter and talked with the staff, Maison was more conciliatory. "He was gracious, and he apologized to Ricardo. I was really impressed," Maison said of the chief. "And with the sensitivity and HIV training, I'm really pleased. I think it's going to be a positive thing."

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