The Boston Fire Department suspended 54 firefighters on Thursday who were part of a state-wide scheme involving more than 200 Emergency Medical Technicians who faked medical training certifications last year, according to state investigators.
Although other districts planned to fire the EMTs involved in the fake training, the Boston Fire Department decided to wage a yearlong investigation, which culminated Thursday.
“They did not follow established procedures when they were going to be recertified,’’ said Fire Department spokesman Stephen McDonald in a Boston Globe article. “The state made us aware of it, and we did an investigation.’’
Two instructors were accused of falsifying certification records for 213 emergency medical technicians in 2010. They gave the EMTs credit for classes that did not take place, from refresher courses to certification in advanced cardiac life support, according to a state report obtained by the Boston Globe.
The investigation yielded that 20 of the 54 Boston firefighters involved received false credentials twice. This earned them a 45-day suspension without pay. The remaining 34 received the falsified certifications once, and got a 15-day suspension without pay.
All will have to repay the department the $1,000 or more stipend they each received for agreeing to take the courses, which are not required, according to McDonald.
The stipend was equal to 37.5 hours of overtime pay for those who did it once. Those who did it twice received double that amount.
The investigation came after state officials received tips that EMTs were gaining false certification.
Leo Nault, a former employee of Trinity Ambulance in Lowell, admitted to collecting between $50 and $125 for offering EMTs fake credentials. He gave these to 170 people.
Lexington Firefighter Mark Culleton said he falsified test scores, but told officials that he “was just trying to help fellow EMTs who were experiencing some hardship,’’ according to the report.
Although those involved in the scheme were a small part of the state’s 23,000 EMTs, the Department of Public Health began outlining steps to prevent training fraud, including monitoring the courses, said Julia Hurley, a department spokeswoman.
The Department of Public Health suspended the licenses of the involved EMTs for up to nine months, and the two instructors were banned from practicing in Massachusetts. Many have appealed the suspension.