- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2006

The doctor who oversees training and quality control for the D.C. fire department’s emergency medical services division has resigned, making him the third person to leave the post during the four-year tenure of Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson.

Fire officials said yesterday that Dr. Amit Wadhwa, a part-time emergency department physician at Howard University Hospital and Providence Hospital, submitted his resignation effective today and that a search is under way for a new medical director.

“Dr. Wadhwa brought many improvements to the Fire-EMS Department and to EMS service in the District of Columbia — bringing more paramedics into the agency that can help critical patients, developing better programs to evaluate and improve the quality of care we give people in the District, and laying a strong foundation for the future,” Chief Thompson said.

In addition to working as the medical director, Dr. Wadhwa was a member of a task force established by D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat and chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary that has oversight of the fire department.

The task force is charged with examining the delivery of EMS services in the District and recommending improvements. Several persons who sat in on the task force meetings said Dr. Wadhwa often provided a candid analysis of the deterioration of quality control systems within the agency.

Dr. Wadhwa, who took over in March 2005, was highly regarded among agency providers who said he instituted additional layers of oversight to ensure the competency of new medics.

New medic hires or recently trained medics who have passed their certification examinations are expected to go through two weeks of training in the District’s emergency medical protocols before being assigned within the department.

Dr. Wadhwa insisted that new medics spend an additional six to 10 weeks with a field training officer and then demonstrate their competency in an interview and personal demonstrations of their skills before getting field assignments.

Sources within the department said that Dr. Wadhwa was pressured to lower his standards because of recent budget problems and an urgent need to fill paramedic vacancies.

His frank analysis of the department’s shortcomings eventually led to a clash with Chief Thompson, who demanded his resignation late last week.

Dr. Wadhwa did not return a phone message yesterday seeking comment.

Chief Thompson, through a spokeswoman, denied asking for the doctor’s resignation. He said yesterday he “knew of Dr. Wadhwa’s plans a few weeks ago” and is looking for a replacement.

Meanwhile, Dr. Michael D. Williams, who joined the fire department last month as a medical officer, will serve as acting medical director. Dr. Williams, a D.C. resident, is a trauma surgeon at Washington Hospital Center.

Dr. Clifford H. Turen, who worked out of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, resigned in March 2005 after a six-month stint as medical director.

In August 2004, Chief Thompson fired Dr. Fernando Daniels III after confidential patient records were leaked to members of the D.C. Council.

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