- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

An instructor hired by the D.C. fire department to run a paramedic-training class resigned last week because the department didn't pay her or provide necessary support, fire department sources said.
The class of 15 emergency medical technicians and 14 firefighters, was in the fourth week of a 51/2-month training course.
A fire department employee familiar with the situation said Midge Moreau, whose consulting firm Tecc Ed is one of the most highly regarded paramedic-training companies in the region, was never paid. The employee said Fire Chief Ronnie Few and Dr. Fernando Daniels, Emergency Medical Services medical director, promised to pay Miss Moreau on three separate occasions.
But lack of payment was only one of the reasons for her departure, other sources said. Although Miss Moreau couldn't be reached for comment, the situation was publicly known.
A scheduling conflict at the fire department's training academy forced the class to meet at the Metropolitan Police Department training academy. Then the class was relocated to D.C. General Hospital.
Other problems arose, including arguments between Miss Moreau and city EMS instructors who wanted a greater role in training, and Dr. Daniels' failure to arrange for provision of clinical rotations in area hospitals. The rotations make up about one-third of the paramedic-training program and are customarily scheduled before classes begin.
"Given the way she was dealt with, she had to walk," medics union Chairman Kenneth Lyons said. "I feel bad about it, because I recommended her. I knew what she could bring to the table."
Chief Few acknowledged his department's tight budget Friday, but denied there was a disagreement with Miss Moreau about money or anything else. The chief said his impression was that she had left for personal reasons.
"I'm going to address this class myself, and let them know personally this class will go on," Chief Few said.
But students, who have been told to report for class this morning, are skeptical.
"Even if training continues, most of the students won't participate because they know the quality won't be there," said the employee, who has discussed the situation with students.
Last year, the fire department taught an EMT Intermediate course, and of the 21 who completed the class, only five passed the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, which is required of EMTs in the District.
"She had an 80 [percent] to 85 percent pass rate," Mr. Lyons said. "Can the agency say that?"
The current paramedic-training class is the District's first. It was established to address a dire shortage of paramedics in the city. Previously, the department paid to have EMTs take private classes.
The department has about 60 paramedics far short of the 160 necessary to put four shifts of paramedics in each of the city's 33 engine companies and account for leave and sick time. Even more medics would be needed to fill vacancies in the department's advanced life-support ambulances.
Lt. Raymond Sneed, president of the D.C. Firefighters Association, said the disruption causes him to question the chief's commitment to the dual role cross-training system among firefighters and paramedics.
"Apparently, this is a task either too great for the department to handle or something the chief is not on board with," Lt. Sneed said. "If you had planned it, if you had embraced it, you would have made the resources available."
Addressing the shortage of paramedics is even more urgent because, in October 2002, the D.C. Department of Health will adopt the expanded training requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Standard Curriculum, the national guideline for emergency medical care. Instead of a certificate program, the paramedic-training course will expand to a two-year degree program.

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