2 men called heroes by boss

Two paramedics, employed by EASI in Pine Bluff, were praised by their boss Thursday for protecting a woman involved in a domestic violence incident. The two were wounded in a gunfight and the perpetrator was killed, according to authorities. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Byron Tate)

Two paramedics who were shot multiple times Thursday morning while trying to help a victim of domestic violence were hailed as heroes by their boss.

John Bishop, CEO of Emergency Ambulance Service Inc., said Joshua Godfrey, 35, and John Spriggs Sr., 41, went above and beyond the call of duty in trying to protect a 20-year-old woman whose 22-year-old boyfriend, Kevin Curl Jr., had injured her and then became aggressive when the paramedics came to her rescue, according to a Pine Bluff Police Department report.

Bishop said he was still trying to cope with what had happened to his two employees.

"As the CEO of this company, they are great employees who have served the citizens of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County with the utmost respect and care and professionalism," said Bishop. "It's an absolute tragedy what happened."

While the woman was being treated by the paramedics, Curl approached the two men and became confrontational, according to the police report. Spriggs then told Curl to back up, at which time Curl walked up to Spriggs, pushed him and asked him what he was going to do about it.

In defense, Spriggs punched Curl, who then shot both paramedics approximately three times each in the chest, pelvic and abdominal areas, police said. Spriggs then returned fire, striking Curl, who ran inside his house and died, according to the report.

Even though incidents such as this are not normal, Bishop says EASI has policies and procedures in place regarding extreme situations.

Not wanting to go into any details when asked about paramedics, such as Spriggs, carrying guns, Bishop did say that he is going to thoroughly explore the subject to keep his crews safe. "We're going to explore every option that we have," said Bishop. "Not only in Pine Bluff but throughout our entire company."

EASI is the ambulance provider for Pine Bluff and Jefferson County; Warren and Bradley County; Star City and Lincoln County; Rison and Cleveland County; England and the southern third of Lonoke County; and DeWitt and the southern two-thirds of Arkansas County. EASI has been in operation in Pine Bluff for more than 45 years, and it is one of the oldest ambulance services in the state.

Bishop said what happened to his paramedics is something that is difficult to prepare for. "What we train is to never have a situation like that unfold and to never get into a situation like that," said Bishop, who pointed out that the information provided to the ambulance company in the original call did not mention there was domestic violence going on. Had that detail been known, the police would have responded, he said.

According to Bishop, both paramedics were operated on at Jefferson Regional Medical Center and were out of surgery Thursday afternoon and in stable condition. The families of both men have asked for privacy during this time but said they are appreciative of the outpouring of support and prayers.

"They're both great. Not just EMTs and paramedics but family men, fathers and one of them is a grandfather," said Bishop. "They are very dedicated to their work, and I'm proud of them for saving their life and most importantly the life of the young lady who called them to come to help her out."