State Investigating Tulsa Fire Department

Wednesday, January 21st 2009, 7:04 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The state is looking into claims that Tulsa Fire Department training records were falsified, giving paramedics credit for courses they didn't take.

The fire department claims it's a matter of paperwork and that no firefighters lied about their training, but the state health department interviewed medics who said they made up some of the records.

Tulsa Fire Department paramedics train to keep their skills sharp, with hands-on training and refresher courses on video. A whistleblower within the department claims some firefighters falsified records and got credit for courses they didn't take.

"Some medics said they had signed up for classes that we never delivered, and whether that's faulty memory or faulty record keeping, that's what we want to look into," said Dr. John Sacra, Medical Control Board director.

State health department investigators determined that some of the training hours could not be verified and said that most paramedics interviewed admitted that some of the courses were made up.

"The portion of the training that's under question is continuing education on top of the organized structured classroom training that they do every two years," Tulsa Fire Capt. Michael Baker said.

Firefighter paramedics must pass tests that measure their skills, but the course work is also required.

Fire department officials said they have already taken steps to verify training and plan to retest paramedics certified within the last year.

The department claims the problems are with the paperwork and not a question of honesty.

"Right now we have not found anybody who has intentionally lied about a class or written something down that says ‘I was here, but they weren't,'" Capt. Michael Baker said.

The mayor and city council will discuss an audit and possibly some personnel action during an executive session Thursday. Someone could be fired, but it's not likely to happen without more investigation.