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Grieving Naples father confronts Collier County EMS

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Grieving Naples father confronts Collier County EMS

By Matt Grant. CREATED Apr 3, 2013

NAPLES, Fla. - A grieving Naples father publicly confronted Collier County's EMS chief Wednesday, calling for his resignation over the death of his son.

A communication breakdown last December resulted in an ambulance waiting 5-6 minutes before ever leaving the station after being dispatched to Charles Minard's home.

His son, who was in cardiac arrest, died a week later.

Since then, Minard has been fighting for answers. The last time he came face to face with EMS Chief Walter Kopka was in February. Kopka had arranged for the two to meet privately. The meeting ended with Kopka kicking the family out and calling the cops.

"I would like to know why you called the cops on me," Minard said at a public meeting Wednesday.

Minard attended the meeting for the "Targeted Response Group," which is a group tasked with improving response times and operations with EMS. It's made up of representatives from EMS, fire districts, dispatch and emergency management. 
 
"I think you ought to hand in your resignation," said Minard during public comments. "You and [County Manager] Leo Ochs. Both you guys have failed Collier County horribly. Horribly."
 
Minard placed a black and white photo of his dead son, which he often carries, on the board's table. As Minard spoke, Fire Chief Nolan Sapp looked down and twirled his pen while Kopka appeared to look away.

"I want answers. I want accountability. And I want to see some change," said Minard. "I don't want to sue the county. I want to see change here. I want to know that your kid, or your kid, is not going to die because you guys can't show up on time."

Before the meeting ended, Kopka tried to slip out.

"What's your response to what Charles Minard had to say?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

Kopka refused to comment, walked down a hall and slammed a door on us.

"One word accountability and he's out the door," said Minard.

But Minard found an ally in Capt. Andrea Schultz with the East Naples Fire Rescue District.

"I'd just like to say I'm sorry for your loss," said Schultz.

Schultz was the only group member to publicly respond to Minard. And she was the only one to talk with him about his concerns afterwards.

"Obviously I'm affected by it," she said. "Unfortunately we work in an industry that we're reactive to issues as opposed to be proactive. So I think these kind of committees are important to make sure that we're being proactive so that these types of incidents don't occur again. Or don't occur at all."

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com

Follow me on Twitter @MattGrantFox4