Did You Receive a DOJ/ FBI Background Arrest Notification from the EMSA?
By EMS Guardian Executive Director, Jennifer Coalson-Perez
The Emergency Medical Services Authority or EMSA and the Local EMSA will contact you if they get notified that you have been arrested. This is often the first indication that a EMT or Paramedic will have that their EMT or EMPT-P license is going to be subjected to discipline, suspended or revoked.
DUI arrests are by far the most common for EMTs and Paramedics, followed by other alcohol related arrests, such as disturbing the peace or public intoxication. A DUI is instantly problematic for an EMT or Paramedic if they drive as part of their jobs, but the “use of alcohol in a manner that is dangerous to yourself or others” is cause for discipline by the EMSA on its own. The language for the arrest notification letter will look something like this:
The Emergency Medical Services Authority (Agency) received a California Department of Justice and/or FBI Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) report that contains information that may affect your EMT or Paramedic certification. This information must be verified based upon and independent investigation by the ____________ EMS Agency.
Your certification and EMT status with the State Central Registry are on hold until you provide additional information so we can determine whether the CORI report is accurate. (1) This notification is based solely on the information contained in the most recent CORI report. The EMSA will conduct a formal investigation to determine the nature of the offense/conviction, and whether this status was properly reported on this, and prior, Certification Applications. (2)
Within 10 days of this letter, contact the EMSA investigator to schedule and investigative interview, provide a written statement, explaining the arrest /detention/ offense/ conviction and a copy of the police report and all court documents. (3) You may bring a representative. (4)
There are 4 items in this letter that are cause for concern for us, and should be for you if you’ve received such a notice.
1.) You might be tempted to provide the additional information as quickly as possible because your EMS certification is on hold until you do. This is a bad idea.
2.) If the arrest or conviction was not properly disclosed on previous applications, your license will be subject to revocation for fraudulent procurement of a license. If you don’t answer this question truthfully, you are also dealing with an unprofessional conduct charge.
3.) Participation in any interview which can impact your EMT or Paramedic license, submission or a written statement or voluntary submission of court documents or police reports without a representative is a bad idea.
4.) That is why the investigator lets you know it is ok to take one— because you absolutely should.
One problem with bringing a representative is that they are hard to come by. If you are a firefighter, your union does not usually provide an attorney to represent you at EMSA interviews, nor do they provide legal coverage for EMSA issues. This leaves you with the burden of finding a lawyer or legal representative on your own.
The other problem with bringing a representative is that you have to know you need one! EMTs and Paramedics don’t understand how important it is to have a lawyer present at these interviews or to review a statement or submit reports. Many EMS personnel assume that if they were arrested or committed a crime, they will just admit it and everything will be fine- but the WAY the EMT or Paramedic admits it, often has a huge impact on the eventual discipline that they will face.
If you didn’t hire a lawyer to represent you during the initial arrest, this is the time to hire one. Or if you hired a lawyer for your arrest and were still convicted and don’t really see the point, this is the time to hire another attorney who knows what they are doing. While having an attorney present or advising you during an EMSA investigation into an arrest doesn’t mean you’ll get off scott-free, it does virtually guarantee that you are not making things worse for yourself, that you are not giving more information than is needed and that you are giving yourself the best chance at keeping your EMT or Paramedic license.
If you’ve received a DOJ or FBI Arrest Notification from the EMSA, please give me a call. I will answer all of your questions, explain the process, give you a rundown of potential outcomes and let you know exactly what you can expect. We won’t pressure you, I just provide information, but if you decide to move forward with an attorney at that stage, you will receive a substantial discount on our Panel Attorney’s retainer for being an EMS Guardian member. Call Jennifer Coalson-Perez at 800-506-9766 for a no-hassle, no pressure, complimentary consultation.