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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Fraud in EMS: How low can you get?

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: A former EMS executive in Chicago pleaded guilty this week to embezzling more than $40,000 from Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service. For Art Hsieh, there's nothing worse than stealing from his beloved profession.

I was hoping for a 'save the cat from a tree' story today as a change of pace from recent columns. Alas, once again there is an article that just makes my blood boil.

This time we're doing malfeasance onto ourselves. Isn't it terrible that when we play by the rules, barely make ends meet, and try to do what's right, one of our own is apparently so willing to take more than their fair share?

Now, I know we are not any different than from any other occupation. A couple of bad apples don't always spoil the rest, as the saying goes. But when we're trusted with protecting the public, there is a certain amount of faith and expectation that is given by those we serve. Adding insult to that: most EMS organizations run on shoestring budgets, regardless of size. We don't have a lot of reserve cash to act as a buffer against theft and fraud. That's why it is important to have checks and balances throughout an organization that can spot irregularities early, not to mention the internal ethics check we should be doing on a regular basis, asking ourselves, "Am I doing the right thing?"

Last I checked, very few of us are in the busiess to get rich. Some of us pay for the privilege of working in this industry, in fact. Shame on those who think otherwise.

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 Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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