Firefighters Suspected of Drug Use - @

Firefighters Suspected of Drug Use

Lincoln police are investigating suspicions that two on-duty employees ingested medicines stored on ambulances.


Jon Nyatawa | | Sunday, July 27, 2008

LINCOLN -- The Lincoln Police Department is investigating two city firefighters who may have used controlled substances from their ambulances while on duty.

Police Chief Tom Casady said Friday that officers began their initial probe July 5 when a firefighter had a medical problem while at work, eventually leading co-workers to suspect that the person used drugs normally stored on ambulances.

Officials suspect another firefighter this week may have used drugs that were supposed to be administered to -- and left with -- a patient, Casady said.

The two firefighters have not been charged, and Casady offered no timetable for the completion of the probe. The two firefighters were not identified.

Fire Chief Niles Ford said the two firefighters are not now working with the department. Ford was not specific about their history with the department but did say one is a paramedic.

"They are not recruits," he said. "They are people that have been in the system."

At a press conference Friday morning, neither Ford nor Casady would identify the drug or drugs used by the firefighters.

Many controlled substances are kept aboard an ambulance, Ford said, and they're inventoried daily by at least three Fire Department employees on three different shifts.

Ford said his department followed the city's drug and alcohol testing guidelines but now will look into expanding that policy.

City employees in Lincoln are now tested for drugs or alcohol before employment, when they return to duty after a leave of absence or if there is a reasonable suspicion of drug use.

Mayor Chris Beutler said Friday that he would support a more extensive drug testing system for the Fire Department, such as random monthly testing, despite the potential expenses.

It could cost $4 for each person in the testing pool per month, according to Diane Gonzolas, the mayor's spokeswoman. There are 296 Lincoln firefighters, although not all would be subject to random testing, Gonzolas said.

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