The Salinas Fire Department, under scrutiny following allegations that department managers falsified mandatory continuing education credits for paramedics, will get to keep its paramedic program after meeting demands for transparency and cooperating with a county investigation.
But the city and the state will continue their own investigations into who falsified the education credits or knowingly received false credits for “infrequently used skills,” procedures that paramedics might not use on every call but must know. Such credits are required by the county Health Department and the agency that regulates emergency medical services in the state of California.
“We want to know why and how this happened,” says Salinas City Manager Ray Corpuz, “and we want to make sure nothing like this can happen again.”
The situation unfolded in April, when county Emergency Medical Services Director James Stubblefield, M.D., and EMS Director Michael Petrie sent a letter to the city alleging SFD management falsely verified and signed off that nearly two dozen paramedics had completed their annual skills verification. Stubblefield and Petrie called the action by SFD management “deliberate.”
The city was given a deadline of July 31 to comply with a list of county demands that included ethics and personal responsibility training. On Aug. 1, the county and city executed a new paramedics service provider agreement that will run through Jan. 31, 2020.
“We’re working very closely with city of Salinas going forward, and have since this all broke,” Petrie says. “The new agreement includes stronger oversight language and we will be doing audits of all paramedic service providers within the next year and we will be looking much closer at the operations and clinical care of the providers.”
Other paramedic service providers in the county received letters demanding updated documentation from county EMS; however, none of those agencies were accused of fraud.