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24 EMS workers fired for skipping CPR training

The Calif. ambulance co. employees admitted to receiving their cards without taking the four-hour course

By Tracy Seipel
San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Following an investigation, two dozen Santa Clara County Rural/Metro ambulance company employees were fired Wednesday for reportedly obtaining CPR recertification cards without undergoing the mandatory four-hour training program.

Company spokesman John Karolzak confirmed that 24 workers were let go for breaching company policy and procedures. He said each of the workers admitted receiving their cards but not taking the course.

"I cannot recall a time where we had issues with people renewing a four-hour certification course," said Karolzak, who said he has been with the company for 29 years.

"This is about community trust, and we want to maintain the trust of the people we serve," he said. "Why not just do the four-hour training?"

Jimmy Gambone, president of the United EMS Workers AFSCME union that represents the ambulance workers, issued a statement Wednesday night saying it has attempted to cooperate with the company in the investigation since it began, "and we are very surprised and disappointed in the harsh and premature actions Rural/Metro Management has chosen to undertake at this time," Gambone said.

He added that the union intends to pursue "any and all such unjust disciplines to the fullest extent allowable under our contract, as well as under any state and federal law should the company continue to refuse to act in good-faith."

Karolzak said Rural/Metro was notified Jan. 30 by the California Emergency Medical Services Authority that it was investigating a local CPR instructor who had trained some of its ambulance workers, as well as other ambulance workers and firefighters throughout Santa Clara County.

After a review of internal records, Rural/Metro said it determined that some of its employees had falsely obtained CPR recertification cards from the instructor under investigation. Rural/Metro then mandated that all employees who had done so complete an in-person CPR course provided by Rural/Metro.

Karolzak said he did not know how many total Rural/Metro employees were involved in the investigation, but that the 24 individuals who were let go also had a history of disciplinary actions at Rural/Metro.

"They had already had issues before related to their performance," Karolzak said.

Rural/Metro employees, he said, must obtain CPR recertification every two years either from Rural/Metro or an authorized trainer.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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