Administration and Leadership, Ambulances & Vehicle Ops, News, Patient Care, Training

Providers Indicted in Certification Scam

Issue 1 and Volume 36.

An Exciting Ride
You don’t always need lights and sirens to have an exciting trip in an ambulance. If you don’t believe us, next time you’re in Jacksonville, Texas, ask paramedic/firefighter Madison Johnson about that fiery patient transfer in October.

Johnson and his partner, Cory Dahms, were transporting a stable patient who was “in the middle of a myocardial infarction” to a higher level of care hospital when they noticed smoke entering the cab of their ambulance. Dahms pulled off the road. Johnson says, “We de-boarded rapidly.” When Johnson saw flames under the cab, “the sense of urgency increased,” he says.

They moved the stretcher about 50 yards away, shielding it from the burning ambulance. “The patient was as cool as a cucumber,” says Johnson.

Next, Johnson pulled the monitor, IV pump, oxygen, pediatrics kit, trauma kit and narcotics out of the ambulance and then secured the narcotics in a police vehicle on scene.

Johnson says that once another ambulance arrived and they’d transferred care, all that was left to do was put on bunker gear and put out the fire in his own ambulance. Johnson says the lights and sirens came on, but the siren soon succumbed to the heat of the fire and wound down to silence.

We give Johnson and Dahms a thumbs up for their quick, reasoned reactions that helped avert a potential catastrophe.

Get Him to the Polls on Time
Wissinoming (Pa.) Volunteer Ambulance Operations Manager Mike Fasone says it’s not unheard of for patients being transported to ask to make a stop along the way. “We get a lot of requests for fast food,” he says. These are primarily from people who don’t get out of their homes much.

In the first week of November, EMT Anthony Maresca made such a run. Maresca was one of the crew members who picked up Charles Gorby, MD, 83, from Lankenau Hospital near Philadelphia. Gorby was headed home when he asked about making a slight detour. The detour was “just a few minutes out of the way,” says Maresca.
With chronic health issues, Gorby is no stranger to the ambulance company, so the crew was happy to oblige. It seems the retired physician hadn’t missed voting in an election since he turned 21, and it was Nov. 2—Election Day. Fortunately, his polling place was a fire station, so there was plenty of room to wheel in the ambulance cot after clearing it with election officials.

The cot stuck out of the voting booth while Gorby fulfilled his civic responsibility, but his vote still counted.

We applaud the Wissinoming Volunteer Ambulance crew for their extra special customer service, helping a patient cast his vote and keep his patriotic record intact.

Fraudulent Behavior
In November 2010, five EMS
providers were indicted in Massachusetts for falsifying their recertification training records.

A New Hampshire paramedic who worked for a Massachusetts ambulance service was named as the “central operator.” Between 2006 and 2009, he was approved by the state Office of Emergency Medical Services to teach more than a dozen training sessions.

The allegation is that he conspired with four others to submit attendance rosters for sessions that were either incomplete or never occurred. According to the state attorney general’s office, more than 200 EMTs fraudulently qualified for recertification under the scheme.

The other four people involved—two paramedics and two EMTs—were employed by private ambulance companies in the Boston suburbs and by the Boston Fire Department. They reportedly collected names of colleagues for the rosters the instructor submitted.

“We allege that the conduct of these individuals severely undermined the state’s EMT certification process,” Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says. “These acts posed a risk to public safety and public health, and our office is continuing our probe into this matter.”

We give a thumbs down to these providers for their attempts to cut certification corners. These fraudulent actions not only reflect poorly on the professionalism of EMS, but they also put future patients at risk. JEMS

This article originally appeared in January 2011 JEMS as “Last Word: The Ups and Downs of EMS.”