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Report: Unlicensed Mich. firefighter treated patient

BLUE LAKE, TWP., Mich. The Blue Lake Township Fire Department will be under scrutiny for the next year after county medical officials determined an unlicensed firefighter provided medical treatment to a patient.

The fire department has been put on probation by the Muskegon County Medical Control Authority, according to Dr. Jerry Evans, medical director of the authority.

The action follows an investigation by the authority into former township fire Capt. Steve Holke, whose emergency medical technician license expired in September 2005.

The authority has permanently banned Holke from serving as an emergency medical technician or medical first responder in Muskegon County, according to Evans. The Medical Control Authority oversees emergency medical first responders who work for fire departments and ambulance services.

"The investigation concluded that, based on statements from the firefighters on scene, Mr. Holke did treat a patient while his license was expired," Evans said in a prepared statement.

Working without a valid license in Michigan is considered a felony. Results of the authority's investigation have been forwarded to state officials conducting their own investigation, Evans indicated.

Holke, who had been demoted from captain to probationary firefighter after it was learned he didn't hold a medical license, recently resigned from the Blue Lake Township Fire Department, according to Township Supervisor Don Studaven.

As part of the fire department's probation, documentation regarding its medical calls will be closely monitored by the authority.

Studaven said he's not concerned about the probation, and even welcomes the additional monitoring the authority will provide.

The township board in April issued a written reprimand to Fire Chief Kim Busman for failing to ensure all firefighters were properly licensed. The board also disbanded its fire committee, a member of which had first brought up the licensing issue.

Studaven said earlier the committee was disbanded because the township board wanted to keep closer tabs on the fire department itself.

"I'm confident that the (fire) chief and assistant chief are going to be on top of this thing all year, and longer than that," Studaven said. "I'm sure that's going to happen.

"And if they don't, we will," Studaven said, referring to board members.

State investigators will meet soon with Blue Lake Township officials as part of their probe, said Robin Shively, manager of the EMS & Trauma Systems Section of the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Holke, who has previously said he did not provide medical treatment while unlicensed, unsuccessfully appealed the authority's findings to the authority's Professional Standards Review Organization subcommittee, Evans said.

Holke has previously refused to comment and requested that The Chronicle not further contact him.

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