Scores of the District's paramedics failed to meet the minimum national standard on written exams testing or mishandled basic life-saving procedures during videotaped assessments, according to interviews, videos and documents obtained by The Washington Times.
One of the nation's premier emergency medical professionals, who reviewed the materials at The Times' request, said the deficiencies identified during a sweeping assessment of the city's paramedics posed a safety crisis for the nation's capital.
"Based on what I saw on those videos, there is no question in my mind," said Paul Werfel, director of New York's Stony Brook University's paramedic program and a clinical assistant professor of health sciences. "To be perfectly honest, I think there's a real threat here. The safety of the people of the District of Columbia is at risk. It's a clear and present danger to them."
He said many of the paramedics displayed a lack of familiarity with the equipment they were using and had difficulty performing basic paramedic tasks, such as intubating a patient. He said that one paramedic put a bag valve mask that assists patients with breathing difficulties on the mannequin upside down, others mismanaged the patients' airways, and others administered medications to cardiac arrest victims when the situation called for electric shocks. Many of the paramedics used obsolete techniques to determine the condition of the patient.
The city has about 250 paramedics, and about 175 have been put through the assessment program at a training center in Maryland. The Times obtained test scores for at least 95 of the paramedics. Only three scored in a range to get a passing grade under the national standards for entry-level paramedics.
THREE? Uno, Dos, Tres? A whopping three were able to get a passing grade?
What's so "progressive" about incompetent EMT's?