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Home > Topics > Fire-EMS

EMS service sues Texas city for retaliation

The owner says he’s being treated unfairly by the city after testifying in court that firefighters needed more than a 48-hour training course to become paramedics

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — The owner of a local EMS service who sued the city of Brownsville claims he’s being retaliated against after serving as an expert witness in a case between the city and the firefighter’s union.

Justin Oakerson of Intercity Ambulance Emergency Medical Technicians testified on behalf of the union that firefighters needed more than a 48-hour refresher course over two weeks to take and pass the National Registry Exam to become paramedics, the Brownsville Herald reports.

Instead, he told the city that a thousand-hour course would be necessary for firefighters to be considered adequately trained to act as paramedics, according to court documents.

“He was prepared to say that the matter was one of public safety and general public concern,” the complaint states.

Afterward, he said the city began retaliating against his businesses by no longer calling on him to transport patients and issuing a citation for operating an ambulance in the city without a formal license, which he had been doing for the past three years.

The lawsuit alleges that Brownsville also allows 10 other EMS businesses to operate without a license. He filed the suit April 10, and plans to seek a jury trial.

The situation stemmed from Oakerson being called as an expert witness in a previous lawsuit between the Brownsville Firefighters Association and the city, which was eventually settled and dismissed.

A condition of the collective bargaining agreement requires firefighters to pass the National Registry Exam to become paramedics, but the course for firefighters was dropped when instructors were not hired during a transition between two local colleges.

An entity called the Pan American Institute of Emergency Medical Science was created to try to fill in the training gap, but the state of Texas stepped in and said it wasn’t eligible.

Since there were 13 firefighters required to pass the exam under the contract, the city told them to take a 48-hour refresher course. The firefighter union sued, saying it wasn’t enough, and Oakerson testified that was indeed true.

Oakerson’s testimony forced the city to settle, firefighter union President Carlos Elizondo said.

Firefighters will now be able to wait until the city submits bids and finds a new paramedic course sanctioned by the state before taking the exam.

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Jim Lindsay Jim Lindsay Wednesday, April 23, 2014 11:45:29 AM That's why there are too few paramedics 48 hours is plenty of time to train ambulance drivers. It's not as complicated as getting your CDL. Now that's hard.
Daniel Koskenmaki Daniel Koskenmaki Wednesday, April 23, 2014 11:52:49 AM What is it that you're trying to say? What does ambulance drivers have to do with anything? The point that's being made here is that 48 hours is _not_ long enough to become a qualified paramedic. it takes 1000-2000 hours of instruction (depending the state) to receive adequate education for paramedicine.
Dominick Walenczak Dominick Walenczak Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:01:48 PM Jim Lindsay, Not sure if sarcasm or if just stupid.
Aj Hamlin Aj Hamlin Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:27:20 PM In my state the minimum hours is 1100 to be able to sit for the state exam. The college I am employed at requires BIO 168 and 169 prior to admission in the Paramedic course which runs for 1500 hours. If you are a Paramedic and been out of school for 2 years, National Registry does require a 48 hour refresher course to sit for the National Registry exam, however you must have already completed an accredited Paramedic course.
Nicholas Brandon Dodd Nicholas Brandon Dodd Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:28:56 PM Blatant sarcasm is blatant.
Michael Pieretti Michael Pieretti Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:31:30 PM Vote for Jim Lindsay. He has no idea what he's talking about.
Amanda Gonzales Amanda Gonzales Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:47:08 PM Jim Lindsey you are cool with a person Stabbing a needle into your neck, Using a machine to shock your heart with as much electricity as they want and pushing drugs into your veins that could kill you after a 48 hour class??? I hope you have 1 hell of a life insurance policy.... Someone should benefit from your stupidity
J S Sam Carter J S Sam Carter Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:48:04 PM It is clear that the city was trying to rush the FF through. The problem lies with the mentality of the city leaders. Paification of a line item of this magnitude will put the citizens at risk. They need to be properly educated. If the FF were certified as an NREMTP and it was required for them to take the bridge course to NRP that is one thing but initial education requirements are much more in the great state of Texas. There are a lot of details left out of this article to truely take sides.
Charla Clarke Charla Clarke Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:59:55 PM When this was done years ago in my area these ff/paramedics were referred to as "shake and bake" medics or microwave medics. Most were dangerous not because they were not capable they were just not given the opportunity to learn the skills needed.
Jason Bokow Jason Bokow Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:00:47 PM obviously she's not anything medical if she is reffering to us as "ambulance drivers" and if she's saying CDL is harder then being a medic or EMT she needs to get off the crack......people get CDL's when they cant find any other gainful employment OR they truly LOVE driving....but then again, i went on a stint about getting every license i could...i got my motorcycle, CDL, boat, and a supercar license......The CDL was NOT hard at all.....being a EMT or MEDIC....much harder.
Mike Tragesser Mike Tragesser Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:13:33 PM There is a big difference between the 48 hour Refresher and the 1,000 hour initial accreditation program. Unfortunately the article does not clarify what the Firefighters in Brownsville were required to take, or whether they had been previously Paramedic trained. For the city to retaliate by restraint of trade is pretty damn stupid. He will clearly have grounds for a successful lawsuit which will only hurt the taxpayers. City administrators should be fired over that.
Javier Ortega Javier Ortega Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:27:51 PM to train someone to drive an ambulance maybe. not to be a paramedic lol
Adriyn Grey Adriyn Grey Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:40:34 PM yeah, hauling freight, pissing in milk jugs, and banging truck stop hookers is SO much harder than ACLS, phlebotomy, defribillation, and doing the DRIVING at top speeds w/o hitting anyone or flipping over.
Joshua Powell Joshua Powell Wednesday, April 23, 2014 2:37:53 PM wow. become a paramedic with a 48 hour refresher course. There is a reason it is a REFRESHER course.
Joshua Powell Joshua Powell Wednesday, April 23, 2014 2:39:15 PM Dominick Walenczak pretty sure its sarcasm
Jim Lindsay Jim Lindsay Wednesday, April 23, 2014 4:15:27 PM I
Jim Lindsay Jim Lindsay Wednesday, April 23, 2014 4:23:34 PM I am a NREMT-P and I work for pay. I'm sorry for those that were to green to understand my comment but those with butt hurt are on their way to burnout. I you think I'm serious I'm sorry for you also. If you more recognition and better pay the gripe at someone that can make it happen like the media, your employer, the community , etc . The reason we don 't have these things is because most people in Ems ar egos with feet . Too busy to arguing over trivial stuff to get organized and make things happen. Get out there and show the world what you can do. Gripe at the right people for god sakes and show some hair.
Jim Lindsay Jim Lindsay Wednesday, April 23, 2014 4:31:04 PM Excuse the grammar but my driver is hitting every pot hole in the road. By the way my driver is an EMT basic . I never drive because I'm a freaking PARAMEDIC and my career spans couple of decades. So get some code saves under your belts and if your ego still makes you want to gripe at me then I suggest you seek professional help.
Jim Lindsay Jim Lindsay Thursday, April 24, 2014 1:39:05 AM The only thing that I am trying to say is that the public views us as step and fetch it's with minimal training. I'm hoping that the sarcasm hits home with other seasoned medics that have experienced this first hand . Hopefully we are all fed up with this and are trying to set a good example. And of course lazy medics are constantly setting bad examples of our practice.
Jeremy Bauerle Jeremy Bauerle Thursday, April 24, 2014 4:43:44 AM I'm am not an "Ambulance Driver" I'm a EMT, and I Love my Job!
Vince Jones Vince Jones Thursday, April 24, 2014 9:50:07 AM This guy is a total idiot! Just because he didn't have what it takes to be a FF dont be slam the ones that did.
Ray McSlaughter Ray McSlaughter Thursday, April 24, 2014 10:05:59 PM One would think the City would Learn, but alas they do not. Justin knows his stuff, and has sued the city before- AND WON!!!! When the "Compadre System" is what is running a city, who's workers are trying to look out for the best interest of the city, then you have Professional Employees working for UN-Professionals who just want to "Save a Buck" But end up losing in the long run. JUSTIN- Nail Their Hides to the Wall!!!

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