Va. county EMS chief suspended over fatal ambulance crash
Westmoreland County EMS Chief Jeff Beasley was suspended after a whistleblower highlighted several violations that occurred before the crash
WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Va. — An EMS chief was suspended over a fatal ambulance crash after a whistleblower brought several violations to light.
WTVR reported that Westmoreland County EMS Chief Jeff Beasley was suspended after an anonymous EMS provider claimed an ambulance’s sirens were not activated when it was involved in a Sept. 17 crash that killed Rita Davis, who was inside the other vehicle.
“A priority one transport is lights and sirens imminent life threat,” the EMS provider said. “Internally, I’ve heard first hand that there were no sirens on, that the lights were activated, lights were on, but no sirens were on and the vehicle did not slow down or stop before entering the intersection.”
If the claims are true, a Virginia code known as “Ashley’s Law,” which requires an emergency vehicle to yield to traffic at a red light unless both lights and sirens on, would have been violated.
The EMS provider added that the driver of the ambulance had only been with the department for one month and was being trained at the time of the crash.
“I do know that he had not been released by the department to drive yet,” the EMS provider said. “I don’t blame him for that because he’s doing his job the best that he knows how. One of the two people in the back needed to be up there with him if he was going to be driving.”
It was also discovered that Beasley and at least 22 other EMS providers in the agency had expired emergency vehicle operator course certification at the time.
“We had a chief that responds lights and sirens to that accident that night and we learned that he did not have a valid emergency vehicle operating card,” the EMS provider said. “That was kind of a blow. Your management can’t keep up with their own certifications, so how are they going to manage what you need?”
Records show that Beasley’s certification had been expired for six months, and some EMS providers had been without certification for 20 years.
“We’ve all been waiting for something big to happen to force some change in the department, and something big happened, and the response from administrative staff, from county administrator to the chief, has been silence,” the EMS provider said. “This absolutely could have been prevented if we had a clear-cut process for our providers on how we do things.”
The EMS provider added that the county “has blood on their hands” after the crash.
“We work to help people and save lives, not to take them,” he said.
The crash is currently under investigation, and county officials said they are also reviewing their “own internal process.”