Man Declared 'Dead' Sparks Two Inquiries

Two Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics who incorrectly pronounced a 63-year-old Sylmar man dead were assigned Friday to desk duty, pending the outcome of two separate investigations.

Fire Chief Donald Manning said the department will conduct an investigation into the Thursday afternoon incident as will the state Department of Health Services, which certifies paramedics.

The man, identified as Kenneth Smith, was in serious but stable condition Friday in the intensive care unit at Holy Cross Hospital in Mission Hills. He was left for dead for almost two hours before a deputy coroner, sent to remove his body, revived him, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Assistant Fire Chief Gerald Johnson refused to identify the paramedics except to say that one is a 10-year veteran and the other has worked for the department for about four years.

"We're going to bring them in and have them write some very comprehensive reports about their actions," Johnson said.

But he added: "There are people whose pulse and respiratory rate can become almost undetectable. . . . It doesn't appear that we're looking at a disciplinary situation."

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