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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Final word on the recertification scandal

By Arthur Hsieh

The Massachussets recertification scandal is finally drawing to a close, as two more pled guilty to fraudulently allowing dozens of EMTs to become improperly certified. Victor Valdez and Jeffrey Given were sentenced in Suffolk Superior Court for their roles in the scheme, a month after Leo Nault also pled guilty.

This will hopefully be the last time I will comment on this sordid tale of fraud and deceit.

At the end of the day, the actions of a few individuals really had the potential to place the public at risk of harm from well-meaning but unprepared EMS providers. The penalties appear fair and it's time to move on.

Looking at the scenario as an armchair quarterback, a couple of issues surfaced for me beyond the individual actions that bear note.

1) It was intriguing to observe that so many providers found it very easy to cheat the system and not attend classes? Is it because of previous badly run refresher classes? Was it too expensive? Was it difficult to find the classes? Or was it just simply the opportunity existed? I'm not sure what the real reasons are, but there should be better understanding of the environment that existed that promulgated the cheating.

2) The act of fraud occurred over a long period of time and was widespread. What quality assurance controls are in place to detect this type of behavior? It's a challenge to oversee all aspects of an entire EMS system, for which education is an integrated portion. Yet it is as important as checking whether an ambulance has the equipment to respond to a call, or the competency of performing a critical procedure such as intubation. There needs to be enough control systems in place to ensure the integrity of all we do in EMS.

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
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