The Tale of Two… EMTs

The Tale of Two… EMTs

By Jennifer Coalson-Perez

Executive Director, EMS Guardian

 It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…

One of the licensing issues that we’ve run into with Local 798 members is properly filling out a renewal of a license application. While this may seem ridiculously cut and dry, if you have any skeletons in your closet, the renewal application can be fraught with pitfalls. This is the tale of 2 of your EMT members who had similar issues, handled them quite differently and achieved 2 totally different results.

We recently were able to retain the EMT license of one of your brothers, but it wasn’t without a fight and some clever lawyer-ing by the EMS Guardian panel attorneys. So much so that your in-house counsel commented that our lawyer Mr. Thompson, should be appointed to saint-hood for saving the EMT’s license. I’m not sure this qualifies as the “best of times”, but we thought it was a pretty nice compliment and were glad to help.  A simple misunderstanding in what should be disclosed on a renewal and some sneaky investigation tactics by the SF LEMSA resulted in a Fraudulent Procurement of a License allegation; which I’m sure you can imagine, is absolutely cause for license revocation. Unfortunately, the “I didn’t understand the question defense” is not always the best strategy.

The Local 798 EMT failed to disclose the fact that he had his EMT certification in another county revoked when he applied for licensure by San Fran County.  On two subsequent renewals of his license he also did not disclose this, because he didn’t know he had to.  He also initially denied it when ambushed by an investigator in a phone call he wasn’t expecting. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this “foolish”- it was an honest mistake but one that resulted in some fairly severe consequences for the EMT.

We were able to salvage his license but he is subject to a 60 day suspension of his license and then 3 years of probation, 40 hours of community service and an ethics class. I don’t know about the “worst of times”, but certainly a colossal hassle.

The EMSA really had him over a barrel and forced terms on him we did not want, however he still has his license which was the main goal here.  We strongly believe that if he had appealed, that a judge would have very likely ruled against him, and even if they hadn’t, the medical director would have still revoked. 

Conversely, another EMT called who was in the process of filing out a renewal for the first time in San Francisco and had an expunged misdemeanor conviction stemming from more than a decade prior during his college days. While I wouldn’t deem this the epitome of “wisdom”, we did think it was a pretty good idea for him to utilize the resources available. This EMT had disclosed the matter when applying for his license in other counties. He had also been forthcoming during the hiring process, but had he not disclosed the conviction in a renewal application, he would have been saddled with the same accusation as the other member. In less than 24 hours his application had been reviewed by a lawyer, his letter of explanation amended to avoid any potential issues and the green light given to submit it to the Local EMSA along with the reassurance that if he receives any flak, we will take care of it. This is the note he sent us:

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.  I will make the recommended additional comments that [Mr. Thomson] suggested in my EMT letter.  I will also let my captain know how helpful you all have been and that the turnaround time was excellent. Thanks again.

While this could be construed as a tooting of our own horn, it is more to let Local 798 members know that a.) we are here to help; b.) it is worth it to reach out for anything license related; c.) it isn’t a hassle to utilize the service that your union has secured for you and d.) there are never any out of pocket costs for Local 798 Members.

The moral of the Tale of Two EMTs: even if you think that you’ve crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s, even if you think you’ve disclosed everything there is to disclose, even if you think it will be more trouble than it is worth, give us a call if you have any questions regarding renewing your EMT or Paramedic license. Our panel attorneys will review your issue in a timely manner and you can move forward with the security that your license renewal application has been vetted by lawyers.


Check at your station for your EMS Guardian Critical Incident Card: it lists the 24 hour hot-line number specifically for Local 798. To reach us directly, call us toll free at (888) 993-1600 or find us at

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