Wednesday, February 27, 2008

DC medics to be retested

In an unusual and sweeping move, Washington, DC Fire Department will retest all of its 250 paramedics for "competency." The testing has been contracted out to the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute (MFRI).

This is a bold move in a troubled department. You may recall the lawsuit filed by the family of David Rosenbaum, the journalist who died in DC after a series of errors.

Looking between the lines it seems quite a bit of power is held by Dr. Michael D. Williams, the DC medical director. After all, the medical director is ultimately responsible for the clinical aspects of an EMS system. But other angles (Rosenbaum lawsuit, legal maneuvering around union issues, politics, etc.) make the medical director the ideal person--and the most bulletproof--to make decisions stick. He says:

"I expect there will be people that fail this process," Dr. Williams said yesterday. "And I think I will be saying, 'You're really not functioning as a paramedic, so we're going to pull you out.' "

Dr. Williams said the policy could create difficulties for the department official who assigns crews to ambulances, but "my obligation sort of trumps his on this one."

Using an outside agency was also wise. MFRI is respected in the area. Offering remediation to those on the edge prevents this being an outright slaughter. I am not sure whether ousted medics will be any better as EMTs. Time will tell.

There will be more chapters to this story. You can read the entire article:
DC medics to be retested.

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