Lawsuit seeks to change Calif. rules on EMT certification for felons

Seasonal Firefighter Dario Gurrola, who was convicted of two felonies, filed a complaint against state EMS officials last week


By Laura French

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A lawsuit filed by a California seasonal firefighter and former inmate seeks to change state rules banning twice-convicted felons from becoming certified EMTs. 

Seasonal Firefighter Dario Gurrola, who was convicted of two felonies in 2003 and 2005, worked with the Institute for Justice to file a complaint last week challenging California's lifetime ban on EMT certification for anyone convicted of two or more felonies, according to FOX 26

Former inmate and Seasonal Firefighter Dario Gurrola has worked with the Institute for Justice to file a lawsuit challenging California's lifetime ban on EMT certification for twice-convicted felons.
Former inmate and Seasonal Firefighter Dario Gurrola has worked with the Institute for Justice to file a lawsuit challenging California's lifetime ban on EMT certification for twice-convicted felons. (Photo/Institute for Justice)

The defendants listed in the complaint are the director of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority and the medical director of Northern California EMS. 

Gurrola first worked as an inmate firefighter at a state juvenile detention fire camp, according to FOX 26.

In 2003, at age 22, he was convicted of the felony of possessing a concealed dagger, and in 2005, he was convicted of assaulting a security guard, according to Gurrola's lawsuit filed Friday. 

Since then, Gurrola has worked as a seasonal firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Pines Fire Department, and completed fire and EMS training courses and tests, according to the complaint, but is barred from becoming a certified EMT due to his convictions. 

Gurrola says the ban prevents him from becoming a career firefighter, as full-time firefighters in the state are required to be certified EMTs. 

"A categorical ban on obtaining EMT certification needlessly excludes thousands of qualified individuals from an array of jobs that they could use to support themselves and to serve the public," Institute for Justice Attorney Joshua House said in a statement.

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