You’ve got to be kidding me

New EMT convicted in fatal prank
Though warned, he shocked a co-worker with a defibrillator

Ridiculous and tragic:

Joshua Philip Martin was in his fourth day on the job as a rescue-squad worker in Russell County when, in a playful mood, he decided to reach into the front seat of the ambulance and zap one of his co-workers with the defibrillator paddles. The rookie’s mistake was fatal.

Yesterday, in Russell Circuit Court, a judge convicted Martin, 25, of involuntary manslaughter, warning the burly but pink-faced young man that when he returns to court in March, he likely will be sent to prison. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The target of Martin’s prank was Courtney Hilton Rhoton, a 23-year-old mother of two small children who had worked her way through school to become an emergency medical technician. She went into cardiac arrest seconds after Martin placed the paddles on her chest and shoulder. Three days later, on June 4, she died.

It seems unbelievable to me that someone would do that. Just unbelievable.


  1. He should go for first degree, pre-meditated murder. All EMT’s and paramedics know that a defib is intended to stop the heart. That’s how it works. The good news is that you can only pull this stunt with the manual defibs the paragods carry. Everyone else gets the foolproof AED, that will not shock unless it detects a particular cardiac arrythmia.

  2. Chuck: I meant to email you on this one but it was the end of the day and I forgot. I’m glad you noticed this post and commented. I wanted to ask you if it was reasonable to expect that a new EMT would not know that this was a very serious no-no… Although I’m sure training varies, you seem to have answered the question even though I forgot to ask it. Murdoc LOVES the blogosphere!

  3. I agree with Mr. Simmins. He should be charged with murder. The medical community has known of the danger since at least 1988, when the Army discussed it with me during classes at Fort Sam Houston, while I was learning to become a Medic. The benifits, and ESPECIALLY the complications are discussed in Basic EMT, Paramedic, Nursing, and Advanced Cardio-Life Support. This Martin guy had to have been Certified as at least a Basic EMT. The liability of the company or institute he was working for would assure that.