Globe Editorial

State should prosecute EMTs who faked their training

June 3, 2010

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IT’S A crime in Massachusetts for emergency medical technicians to falsify their training records. So when the state Department of Public Health disclosed that at least 200 EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters in Massachusetts and New Hampshire got fake credentials without attending training, it wasn’t merely a sad commentary on their honesty; it was illegal. Attorney General Martha Coakley should prosecute the emergency responders with phony recertifications. And those who work for public agencies should lose their jobs.

John Auerbach, the state commissioner of public health, said there’s no evidence that the missed training led to improper treatment for patients. But that may just be luck. Retraining is crucial both because of changes in equipment and best practices, and because many EMTs get few chances to use their skills and need periodic refreshers.

Some cases were especially egregious. In Boston, at least 18 firefighters falsified their training records. They scammed the taxpayer in two ways: the city pays them up to 37.5 hours of overtime to attend the sessions, and certification qualifies them for extra pay. They should be fired. Officials in the other communities where the investigation discovered faked recertifications should be equally severe with their cheaters.

When people call 911 for a suddenly ill or injured loved one, they want to know that the responders are fully trained professionals with up-to-date skills. State and local officials should ensure that EMTs and paramedics get all the training they are supposed to have, and that punishment of those with phony recertification is tough enough to keep anyone from pulling this stunt again.

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