Audit: 12 firefighter-paramedics may not have had proper training

Paul Gerdis, with Atlanta Professional Firefighters, said only 12 of the 25 who graduated in the class of 2016 passed the paramedic test

By Ellen Eldridge
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — After more than a year on the job, 12 Atlanta firefighter paramedics didn't have the proper paperwork to prove they’d passed all the necessary training, according to an audit obtained by Channel 2 Action News.

Those 12 were pulled off the streets and put back in training. 

Paul Gerdis, with Atlanta Professional Firefighters, said only 12 of the 25 who graduated in the class of 2016 passed the paramedics test.

An internal audit showed their trainer did not file paperwork properly, so it was unclear if they had received the required training. It was also unclear if the trainer will be disciplined, Channel 2 reported.

Gerdis told Channel 2 that though they’d been pulled off the engines, they would receive their salaries and have an opportunity to complete the training course.

"They found that hours were missing and the fire department did the right thing and contacted all the members, pulling them off the engines," Gerdis said. 

They could not account for 48 hours in the classroom and 72 hours in the field, where firefighters are required to ride along with a trained paramedic.

Atlanta Fire Rescue sent Channel 2 a statement saying, "Our concern is the proper training and documentation of our paramedics for their responsibilities at AFRD so that as a department, we can perform at the highest level for Atlanta. That's our priority."

Both the fire department and union representative maintain that even though the 12 firefighter paramedics had been working for a year before the discrepancy was noticed, all 12 passed a rigorous and difficult national registry test. 

"In order to do that you have to complete 13 months of school and then complete the national test to verify that you have the skills, knowledge and ability to perform as a paramedic," Gerdis said.

Gerdis said that while the firefighters are getting their full salary while in training, the department is also having to pay other firefighters overtime to fill their spots. He told Channel 2 he worries that will eat up their overtime budget. 

Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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