Paramedics might sue hotel for obstruction

PRIORITIES::The hotel’s staff denied paramedics access to a hotel room in which a woman attempted to commit suicide, saying that it was just trying to protect its guests’ privacy

By Yao Yueh-hung, Lin Chia-chi and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Fri, May 10, 2013 - Page 3

Paramedics intend to sue the W Hotel in Taipei for obstruction in what could constitute the first case of its kind in the nation’s history.

The Taipei Fire Department’s Xinyi District (信義) branch received a telephone call on April 27 saying that a woman surnamed Lee (李) had attempted suicide in the hotel by swallowing pills, the department said.

Hotel staff had found Lee in her room with unidentified pills beside her and decided to call the emergency services, firefighters said.

On arriving at the hotel, firefighters and medical staff were barred by the hotel’s security staff from entering the room to treat Lee, firefighters said.

Hotel security insisted on having hotel personnel bring Lee to the hotel’s lobby, but when they did so eight minutes later, medical personnel found that she was in a deep coma.

Paramedics immediately transferred Lee to Taipei Veterans General Hospital for emergency treatment and succeeded in stabilizing her condition.

The hotel denied the police and Lee’s elder brother access to the room in which Lee was found and police were only able to get a description of the room Lee was found in from hotel staff, police said.

Paramedics said they would sue the hotel as a warning that their actions could have led to the woman’s death.

Police and firefighters said they were considering pressing charges of obstruction against the hotel’s management, adding that it was clear the hotel managers placed the lives of its customers second to its image.

Police and firefighters serving in the area added that the W Hotel has in the past sought to bar emergency-service personnel from entering its premises.

In response, W Hotel public relations manager Chen Tzu-ping (陳祖平) said the hotel had not intended to be uncooperative.

The hotel mobilized its medical team to care for Lee while its security personnel went through Lee’s room for evidence, Chen said, adding that it had been an effort to maintain their guest’s privacy.

The hotel will assist police and firefighters to the best of its ability in future, Chen said.