U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee has spoken with leaders “at the highest level” of the USPS about a policy that instructs employees to first call security when they witness a medical emergency—not 911.
An NBC Bay Area investigation exposed last month that the policy led to delays that may have cost the life of Sam Macasieb, a 28-year-veteran employee at the postal processing and distribution center in West Oakland. Congresswoman Lee represents California’s 13th district, where the facility is located.
In a statement Lee said, “My thoughts and prayers are with Samuel Macasieb’s family. Access to medical treatment is critical and I have communicated with the USPS on this matter.”
In August coworkers found Sam Macasieb on the floor, semi-conscious, bleeding from his mouth and ears sometime between 3:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Instead of calling 911 right away, they followed postal service policy and called supervisors and managers who then alerted the onsite police department that an employee needed emergency medical treatment.
Up to 53 minutes passed from the time an employee says he first found Macasieb to when the postal police contacted 911.
The Investigative Unit later uncovered a history of similar incidents at the Oakland facility and a union grievance filed with the national USPS office about delays in medical care. Documents obtained by the Investigative Unit show that the postal service knew about employees’ concerns since at least 2005 and the agency failed to change its emergency medical procedures.
Postal service officials in the Bay Area said they are working on revisions to the 911 policy at the Oakland facility. Four months after Macasieb’s death, local leaders have yet to announce the changes. The national USPS office has not responded to requests for comment.
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