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Minnesota Firefighter Fired, Accused Of Using Patient’s Fentanyl

A Virginia firefighter accused of using a patient’s painkiller during an ambulance transfer last month has been fired.

The Virginia City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to fire John Rudolph Ditzler. Ditzler, 41, had been on paid administrative leave since being charged Sept. 14 with one count of felony theft. A court appearance is set for Friday in District Court in Virginia.

The City Council took the action near the end of its regular meeting. After meeting in closed session for about 15 minutes, the mayor and councilors returned to open session and voted to fire Ditzler, who had been a member of the Virginia Fire Department since 2006.

A call to Ditzler’s phone was not answered.

According to the criminal complaint against him:

Ditzler and a second firefighter transported a patient from the Virginia Regional Medical Center to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth on Aug. 17. During the trip, Ditzler gave the patient half of a preloaded 100 mg syringe of fentanyl and injected the remainder into himself. The patient saw him do so and reported what she saw to Ditzler’s partner and a nurse at St. Mary’s.

After the two firefighters returned to Virginia, an assistant chief talked to the two about the allegations. Ditzler “at first didn’t say anything,” the complaint said. “He then said he had a problem.”

In a taped statement made to investigators the next day, Ditzler admitted to injecting 50 mg of fentanyl on the ambulance run from Virginia to Duluth, the complaint said. He also admitted to using half of a patient’s morphine earlier that day during an ambulance run from Cook to Duluth. He also disclosed using half of a patient’s morphine in June.