What’s The Number of EMT License Investigations in California
What’s The Number of EMT License Investigations in California?
by Jennifer Coalson-Perez
Easy enough to find out, right? NO….
A month or so ago, I contacted the California Emergency Medical Services Authority with what I thought was a relatively straight forward request. I wanted to know how many EMT licenses were investigated in California and I wanted that information broken down by the 32 Local EMSAs. My reasoning was that the number of investigations and disciplines reported by EMSA only pertained to Paramedic licenses, not EMTs so the true number of EMS license investigations in California was very skewed. The CA EMSA investigates about 500 Paramedic Licenses per year. But how many EMT’s were being disciplined? No one knew. I was told to go to each of the 32 LEMSA’s individually with a records request.
I sent this email out to Alameda EMSA to begin with:
“I was hoping that you could help me or help point me in the right direction. Our office works with EMTs and Medics who are dealing with license discipline. I am looking for a list of LOCAL cases for research purposes. I don’t need names, but a rundown of how many issues were investigated by the Alameda EMSA last year, how many of those investigations resulted in discipline and if you have the information, a breakdown of what types of issues were disciplined and how many in each category. While the EMSA’s website has an index of Administrative Law Judge Proposed Decisions on Paramedic Licensure, there is not any information that I can find at the local level with regards to EMTs.”
The problem with that (and this is good news for any EMT under investigation) is that Government Code section 6254(f) exempts from disclosure:
Records of complaints to, or investigations conducted by, or records of intelligence information or security procedures of, the office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, the California Emergency Management Agency, and any state or local police agency, or any investigatory or security files compiled by any other state or local police agency, or any investigatory or security files compiled by any other state or local agency for correctional, law enforcement, or licensing purposes.
I kept pushing and finally Alameda County EMSA had the request reviewed by county counsel and they finally agreed to give me the information. I used the fact that Alameda had been cooperative to convince the other 31 EMSA Directors to give me the same info, but amended my request to:
If you could reply with these answers- this will answer my question:
At this point, 9 of the 32 have replied with their numbers. What was more interesting is that my request must have been run up the flagpole because I discovered that Dan Smiley is currently “working on a project” and has asked the Local EMSA Directors the following information:
- Total number of complaints opened for investigation, even if the case was closed,
- Total number of certification actions were taken (revocation, suspension, denial, probation) for the 2012 calendar year?
Smiley has requested that the LEMSA have the information to him by Monday the 19th, 2013.
Why is this so important? Why does it matter how many EMT licenses are disciplined in California and how many each LEMSA is conducting? Because License investigations are a Taboo in the EMT and Medic communities. Most of them are the result of off- duty, non-work related offenses, like DUIs so no one talks about them. It is important to know that they do happen, and that they happen a lot more than anyone thought- until now.
Based on the data, the 32 LEMSAs of California conduct about 1600 EMT license investigations per year. Add that to the 500 or so Medic license investigations and that is 2100 licenses being disciplined per year in California- a far cry from the 400+/- one is led to believe take place according to the EMSA’s website. Considering each of those investigations would cost on average about $6000.00 to privately defend, California EMTs and Paramedics are spending a collective $12.6 Million defending themselves every year. THAT is a staggering number.
Below is the breakdown of the California LEMSA’s Investigation and Discipline: