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EMT training scandal: A sordid story of deceit News

April 24, 2012

EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

EMT training scandal: A sordid story of deceit

Continuing education should add more information, not merely repeat it

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: A former EMT instructor in Mass. is going to jail for falsifying records that showed dozens of emergency personnel attended courses to maintain their certification.

This sordid story of deceit began nearly 2 years ago and ends in prison time for the chief player of the scam, financial penalties for others, and a lot of grief for everyone involved. The biggest loser is the public, who might have lost their trust in their public safety providers' ability to provide competent services during an emergency.

There are a few lessons to be learned:

  1. The number of personnel involved in the fraud was significant. It spoke to the ease and comfort people had not to attend classes and yet claim they had. It was pretty easy for people in positions of authority to condone the practice and at the very least turn a blind eye.
  2. To the EMS providers who were involved, the value of their continuing education must have been low. To a certain extent, I'd have to agree. Who wants to hear about the same materials the same way every two years? It would be like having to sit through a driver's education class every two years to maintain your driver's license. The concept of refresher training has to change. Continuing education should add more information, not merely repeat it. Allow providers to test out of their refresher requirements. The National Registry allows that now, and it makes sense. Not all requirements fit all people, so make it competency-based.
  3. Finally, this is a cautionary tale for educators. Don't demean what you do by lowering the value of your work. It's important. Yes, it's more work to put together a great CE than sliding a few rosters across the table. But is it worth the risk?

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Greg Friese Greg Friese Wednesday, April 25, 2012 10:05:00 AM I often wonder where we would be if we could channel the energy put into subverting the system by cheating into changing the system.
Nanette Tarter Nanette Tarter Wednesday, April 25, 2012 9:25:16 PM I just never want to be there
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:11:19 PM There was no jail time. The Judge then suspended the jail sentence. I also doubt if this is anything new. This group just happened to get caught. Signing off on classes not attended is still an accepted practice for several ambulance companies and FDs throughout the US. The EMT and Paramedic refresher should not be compared to a driver's ed course. Medicine changes and even CPR must be updated. It is a shame if instructors are not updating their material or emphasizing what is rarely seen to "refresher". Maybe the term "refresher" is just misunderstood or some just take the easy way through the course rather than approaching the changes. That is a sad statement on the EMS instructors and not on the concept of the refresher. However, it might be a good idea to refresh on the principles of driving an ambulance at least every 2 year. But then some might take that to be associated with being an "Ambulane Driver" and we can't have that regardless of how many people die or will be disabled in ambulance crashes.

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