By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) — When the story first broke this summer, it might have slipped under your radar. But now that a Suffolk County grand jury has indicted five EMT’s and paramedics for defrauding taxpayers by faking the participation of hundreds of their colleagues in legally-required training courses, this has become a situation we need to talk about whether we want to or not.

There aren’t too many professionals I admire more than EMTs. They perform some very difficult tasks, and if you’ve ever needed their help, you know that they usually do so with a high level of competence and sensitivity.
But while the estimated two-to-three-hundred public safety workers who allegedly participated in or benefited from the scam is a fraction of the total number of EMTs and paramedics, it’s a large enough fraction to raise some serious questions about the culture that fostered it.

For starters – did these people even care about the health of their patients? If they did, you would think they would want the information about cardiac care, resuscitation and the other techniques taught in the courses they are accused of being so eager to avoid.

Did their alleged negligence cost anyone their life or their health? Officials say they don’t think so, but how would they know?

The prosecutors claim some of the accused fakers got together for drinks at the same time they were supposed to be in class. Was their fraudulence so amusing to them that it was cause for celebration as well?

If you risk your life driving around here, or see cretins dumping their trash out the window, you are already well-acquainted with the frame of mind that says, “Hey, I’m number one, and I could care less about anyone else.”

It strikes me as a major, demoralizing scandal that one of our most trusted care-giving occupations might prove to be infected with the same virus.

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Jon Keller

Comments (11)
  1. FireGuyFrank says:

    Jon, consider that EMTs, at the Basic, Intermediate and Paramedic levels, practice and train with every shift. Look at the requirements for hours they must meet in each two year license cycle, and how much they pay to renew their licenses each two year cycle. Then, look at what is required of doctors and nurses, who make much more money.

    I’m not saying what they did was right. I’m not defending it. I’m merely asking for balance.

    1. FGF…Thanks, fair point

  2. mikey says:

    I’m not going to tip-toe regarding this issue. No one or group is above the law, let the chips fall where they may.

  3. bob smith says:

    how many times have you signed into a refesher course and never returned after they gave you a break? its not right but we all at some point did it, be honest

    1. FireGuyFrank says:

      And, Bob, why do you leave at the break? Is it because you got off a 24 hour shift the day before and are still tired? (Folks who believe that EMS really stands for Earn Money Sleeping, I can tell you that it is not easy to sleep on the alleged beds at the station; assuming you aren’t out on runs.)

  4. taxedout says:

    This happened in Mass????? No Way!!! Oh this is where my Tax money is going, long as we are moving in the right direction I have no problem!!!

  5. J. Kinney says:

    I have been an EMT for 8 years. Never would I consider “cheating” on my refresher class, CPR certs or other requirements needed to maintain my license. The individuals who took part in this have been disciplined and rightfully so. The chief perpetrator in all this started out by helping out his “brothers and sisters” by only bending the rules a bit within the boundaries of the law. He then got greedy and created a money making machine that was clearly outside the law. I say he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The other issue here is; where was O.E.M.S, where was the over site, how could this go on for as long as it did without being seen by the state authority who is responsible for such programs? Please look into the full story while you investigate this issue.

    1. FireGuyFrank says:

      J Kinney, I would not cheat either. Every time I go for CPR recertification the process changes. I have no problem with keeping up with the latest techniques. It affects two budgets for every EMT — money and time. An EMT Basic earns, what, $10 an hour? An EMT Paramedic is in the moolah at $15 to $20 an hour? The Paramedics have to attend a 48-hour refresher course every two years AND take another 25 hours in other courses. Not done yet! Then every two years they have to recertify in ACLS to ride an ambulance (that is, keep their job!). That’s at least 73 hours invested in course work, plus the time to recert ACLS.

      Doctors have to complete 100 hours of continuing education every two years.

  6. StanleyRamon says:

    Okay, I’ve tried 3 times to comment on this article. I give up. If you find my comments out there in CBS solitary confinement, let me know what my crime was.

  7. BostonIrish says:

    From EMTs to Police to Firemen I have tremendous respect for these guys. I agree with J.Kinney. Frank, I agree with your remark “asking for balance”. It’s true in any profession if it’s a corner cut here and there for sanity sake on occasion. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. This was an “occasion” which grew into a scam.

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