At least 100 first responders in the South Bay may not have been properly certified.
The CPR certifications for paramedics and firefighters in the South Bay are in question after new allegations that the person who certified some of them broke the law.
A large number of Rural/Metro ambulance service’s paramedics and EMTs had to spend three hours of their weekend in advanced CPR training after state investigators alerted Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services that their credentials were not in order.
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The company says it had more than 100 affected emergency responders take the course.
DOWNLOAD: Statement from Rural/Metro
Every two years, paramedics and emergency medical technicians have to take a CPR refresher course, a $20 course available on-line.
But, the state is now investigating an allegation that an instructor in San Jose was selling CPR cards to EMTs without requiring the work. The instructor listed on their recertification cards is accused of selling those credentials.
“An EMT who works in the system had issued CPR cards to individuals who had not properly qualified to receive those cards,” said Michael Petrie, Santa Clara County’s EMS director. “The allegation was that they had not taken a class, nor skills testing, nor a written exam.”
In a statement from Rural/Metro, the county’s ambulance provider, a company executive said, “After a review of internal records, it was determined that some Rural/Metro employees obtained their CPR certification card from this instructor under investigation.”
“Rural/Metro scheduled in-person CPR courses this past weekend to facilitate this retraining for all employees affected,” said John Karolzak, Rural/Metro’s chief relationship officer.
The cost of the retraining session was much more than the cost of normal recertification.
If the employees are found to have deliberately sought out the credentials to avoid doing the one-hour online course, they too could face disciplinary action.
Rural/Metro was under fire last year for missing response time targets outlined in their county contract and failing to reach a labor agreement with its paramedics and EMTs before they authorized a strike. In August, the company filed for bankruptcy in order to restructure its debts and promised to emerge stronger.
Rural/Metro Ambulance Service and Santa Clara County are now trying to determine just how far the problem spread.
“This is not a Rural/Metro problem,” Petrie said. “They have acted responsibly and we’ve had close contact and they are doing everything they should be.”
For its part, a spokesperson for the county says they only found out about the state investigation on Thursday.
Attempts by NBC Bay Area to reach the instructor in question have not been successful.