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Pool party revelers rough up rescuers

When an ambulance crew arrived Tuesday at a Spring Hill home in response to a possible drowning at a backyard pool party, rescue workers did not get their customary warm welcome.

Instead, they were confronted by a raucous crowd of intoxicated people who prevented emergency workers from tending to 30-year-old Robert Prout, authorities said. Medical workers said there were as many as 30 people giving them trouble, but one of the people at the party said the crowd numbered about 10.

"The hostilities escalated to the point where members of the crowd were hitting the EMS (emergency medical services) personnel and equipment as well as arguing and pushing each other," said a Hernando County sheriff's report. "And one of the crew was put into a headlock by one of the crowd."

As a result, emergency workers had to temporarily abandon efforts to assist Prout. After sheriff's officials arrived, emergency workers were able to carry Prout to the ambulance and take him to Columbia/HCA Oak Hill Hospital, where he was in stable condition Wednesday. He apparently had suffered a seizure while in the swimming pool.

Sheriff's officials did not charge anyone in the incident, but authorities continue to investigate and could still file charges, sheriff's spokeswoman Deanna Dammer said.

The incident happened about 11 p.m. during a Fourth of July party at the home of Ray Lutz at 3515 Plaza Ave. Prout passed out and had to be pulled from the water. A sober person at the party gave him CPR, according to the sheriff's report, and Lutz called 911.

Lutz, 45, said most other partygoers _ including several of Prout's brothers _ had been drinking beer and were intoxicated when medical workers tried to get to Prout.

"One stupid brother started this," said Lutz, who declined to give the brother's name. "The EMS guy pushed him out of the way. He didn't like that. He pushed him back. Then everyone jumped in."

Lutz said he went inside his home because he disapproved of what the partygoers were doing. "The EMS people were there to help, not hurt," Lutz said.

At one point, revelers surrounded the ambulance and rocked it, said Dennis Andrews, assistant chief of Spring Hill Fire and Rescue. Four rescue workers locked themselves inside the ambulance.

Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Banks wrote in his report that the crowd was "loud and combative" and that they would not provide details of what had happened. "Writer was unable to understand anything said due to all of their yelling and pushing each other around," Banks wrote.

After the ambulance left, Banks drove to Oak Hill Hospital, where he reported finding a woman and an intoxicated man yelling at the ambulance crew outside the emergency room entrance. She was driving and refused to pull away until Banks threatened to arrest her, the report said.

None of the rescuers was seriously injured, but they were taken aback.

"I had four people on the scene, and they were getting their butts kicked pretty badly," Andrews said.

"This is not something typical of Spring Hill."