BURLINGAME, Calif. - A Bay Area paramedic accuses his former employer of negligence following criminal allegations involving another paramedic charged with sexual assaults on two elderly women in the back of an ambulance.
The man, who asked not to use his name for fear of retaliation, claims American Medical Response (AMR) routinely looked the other way when it came to bad behavior.
"The company doesn’t want to know about a lot of this stuff because if they know about it, they’re required to act on it," he said. "AMR doesn’t want to do anything that’s going to bring liability on them."
AMR is the focus of two civil lawsuits accusing the company of having a culture of sexual harassment and a history of employees sexually abusing patients in ambulances.
"I didn’t think that he was someone who was capable of that," his former coworker said. "He damaged the trust the public puts in us."
The unnamed paramedic told KTVU Tuesday he worked with Ontiveros a handful of times.
But what doesn’t surprise him is the inappropriate conduct he said AMR would allow to go unchecked, despite complaints. That includes employees pocketing supplies to alcohol and drug use at work, the EMT said.
Miguel Ontiveros was fired after getting arrested and charged in San Mateo County on allegations he assaulted two patients in their 80s while they were strapped down and en route to the hospital.
"You’ll see people smoking marijuana on duty," he said. "People will oftentimes talk about using harder drugs, street drugs like cocaine and psychedelics."
He criticized the company’s hiring practices and claims while there was an initial background check and drug test, there’s no ongoing employee monitoring, random drug testing or records checks.
"They can afford to run regular background checks," the paramedic said. "They can afford to pay for extra drug testing. They can afford to put in the accountability measures that we all know they need to have."
From the start, the EMT said he was paid $16 an hour, while workers at the nearby In & Out Burger in Burlingame star at $21 an hour, as also referenced in civil lawsuits.
The paramedic no longer works for AMR after nearly three years on the job. He said he became burnt out with long hours and low pay.
As lawsuits allege, he claims AMR put profits over safety and ultimately may have led to Ontiveros preying on elderly, vulnerable patients.
"He needs to go to jail, and he needs to stay there until he’s an old man," said the paramedic.
AMR would only respond to KTVU with a statement Tuesday saying, "American Medical Response does not comment on ongoing or pending litigation. The employee in question was terminated immediately upon his arrest. AMR is cooperating with law enforcement and the prosecutor."
Ontiveros is in jail awaiting trial on sexual assault charges. His attorney did not respond to previous requests for comment.
"He should not be allowed to have the public’s trust every again," his former coworker said. "It’s shameful. It’s disgraceful."