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Appeals court denies ex-felons’ request to pursue EMT licenses in California

With two felony convictions each, the two plaintiffs also cannot serve in many fire departments


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By Leila Merrill

SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed last week the state regulation that former California inmates convicted of two felonies or of a felony within 10 years are not eligible for EMT licensure.

Many California fire departments require their firefighters to be EMTs, and former California inmates who serve on firefighting crews during their sentences are eligible to work as civilian firefighters, the San Francisco Chronicle noted.

Two plaintiffs who had fought fires while incarcerated were recently released from prison and had sought EMT licenses. But both had been convicted of two felonies that courts had not erased.

A panel of Judges Mark J. Bennett, Ronald M. Gould and Ryan D. Nelson said Thursday in a memorandum opinion that, “In light of the responsibilities of an EMT, the felony bans are rationally related to fitness. Felonies, especially recent ones, reasonably call into question a person’s moral character … There are no more potentially vulnerable patients than those who are involved in the medical emergencies to which EMTs respond.”