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DETROIT — A Detroit paramedic is in hot water after giving an elderly fire survivor a blanket upon the man's rescue.
The incident occurred three weeks ago, when a fire forced a senior citizen out onto the street in only his undergarments. Detroit EMS paramedic Jeff Gaglio gave the man a blanket to keep him warm.
"I'm being punished. I'm being punished for giving a man a blanket, something that would seem like a common, everyday courtesy," Gaglio told Fox 2. Something that any man or woman would do in the City of Detroit, give a freezing man a blanket. I'm being punished for it."
Gaglio was informed last week that he was being brought up on departmental charges for giving away city-owned property.
"We can't have an employee who feels that they have a right to give away state property, be it donated, be it a blanket, be it a tire off a vehicle, without getting prior approval from somebody or notifying the proper authority. This is what he did," chief of EMS Jerald James told Fox 2.
The blanket was not city property, though. Matt Cahillane, president of Firefighter Support Services, told Fox 2 the organization had donated the blanket, and many others, for that exact use.
"Anybody who's been displaced by a fire, that's what they're for," he said.
The controversy has gone nationwide, as supporters of Gaglio have pledged to donate blankets for use by fire victims. A Facebook page has been set up to organize a blanket donation rally for Friday at the Detroit Fire Department's headquarters.
"We are getting sent blankets from all over the country, even from overseas," Detroit EMS medic Robert Shelton told the Detroit News. "It is amazing what is going on here."