After both News4 and the Washington Times quoted experts saying the performance of D.C. paramedics was substandard during simulated incidents, the fire chief spoke out not only about the reports, but about the alleged cheating scandal that he said could involve between 70 and 200 emergency medical technicians who took national certification tests.
News4's investigation showed videos of D.C. paramedics making mistakes in life-or-death simulations in assessments to see how they perform compared to national standards.
Paramedic expert Paul Werfel reviewed and analyzed 16 of the videos, saying, "The mistakes that these folks were making were huge."
When asked for his reaction, D.C. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin said:
"The first time I got to see any of that material was what you aired last night. Of course it is cause for concern, but the entire idea is that we contracted with the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, perhaps the best medical agency in the country, to evaluate our performance in a way that we can change our protocols and train our people."
Now there is an alleged cheating scandal facing the D.C. Fire Department. It involves the use of cheat sheets on the National Registry Certification exam given in La Plata, Md.
The exam is given on the campus of the College of Southern Maryland. It operates under a contract with Pearson VUE, a national testing service.
"We are surprised and disturbed. However, we did have an incident back in December of 2008 when some note cards were found in the testing center," said Michelle Goodwin, the Vice President for Advancement at the College of Southern Maryland. "We reported it to Pearson VUE."
Rubin said people should be careful not to jump to conclusions. He said the matter is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department and internal affairs at the fire department.
"I feel like in a short period of time we'll get to the bottom of this," he said.
The D.C. Fire Department has stopped using the testing site during the investigation. They estimate that between 70 and 200 people took the EMT National Registry Certification tests there.
Chief Rubin said anyone found guilty of cheating on the EMT certification exam will be fired from the department.