Wash. health dept. investigating 9 responders in 'tube check' incident

Though an investigation said 11 department members admitted to intubating a deceased patient, only nine of them were actually credentialed healthcare providers

Read additional commentary and analysis of this incident from David Givot, lawyer and EMS1 advisory board member.

By David Rasbach
The Bellingham Herald

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Health is actively investigating nine members of the Bellingham Fire Department for their roles in the July 31 incident at Station 1 in which an intubation procedure was attempted on the body of a recently deceased patient.

Health Department spokesperson Sharon Moysiuk said Wednesday in an email to The Bellingham Herald that the department “has nine active investigations concerning the fire/EMS intubation incident.”

The announcement comes a week after Moysuik told The Herald in an email that the Health Department was looking into whether an investigation of the case was necessary.

The deceased patient was identified by family members in interviews with The Herald Tuesday as Bradley Ginn Sr.,

Though an investigation into the incident released Sept. 4 by Seattle attorney Sarah I. Hale said 11 members of the department admitted to intubating the patient, only nine of them were actually credentialed health care providers. The two others were office and accounting assistants.

Moysuik said the Health Department investigation, which could take up to 170 days, is focusing on: Captain/Community Paramedic Jeff Brubaker, paramedic/firefighter Matt Cook, EMT/firefighter Hunter Elliott, EMS Captain Scott Farlow, paramedic/firefighter Steve Larsen, Medical Services Officer/Division Chief Mannix McDonnell, paramedic/firefighter Micah Quintrall, paramedic/firefighter Derik Scott, and paramedic/firefighter Aaron Wolven.

“The investigations at the moment are solely against the individuals named,” Moysuik said. “These are individual investigations, and it is early in the process. Once we get the completed investigations, there may be more individuals.”

Moysuik said last week that if the investigation finds sufficient evidence of wrongdoing, the nine certified individuals may be charged with unprofessional conduct. They would then have 20 days to respond in writing or to request a hearing with the Health Law Judge.

“There can be a range of consequences such as suspension, fines and/or require additional education and, in the worst possible case, a revoked credential,” Moysiuk said Sept. 25.

The incident

News of the incident first emerged Sept. 24, following an inquiry by The Bellingham Herald, when the city announced that one veteran officer had retired and another had resigned after Hale’s investigation revealed that a patient who died while being transported to the hospital was taken to Station 1.

Hale’s investigation showed that while the body was at the station, 11 Bellingham Fire employees, including two office workers and an EMT who were not licensed to perform the procedure, made 15 attempts to intubate the body while it was on the floor with the apparatus bay door open through at least some of the attempts.

The investigation also found that “tube checks” — or extricating breathing tubes that were placed as life-saving measures after patients died and then quickly reinserting them to help paramedics practice the procedure and meet requirements for certification — were an accepted practice of the Bellingham Fire Department for the past 25 years — a practice other departments in the region say is not normal.

The Herald also reported Tuesday that Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville and Fire Chief Bill Newbold met with Ginn family on Monday to inform them of what happened July 31 at Station 1. Aurieona Ginn and Brandley Ginn Jr. both told the Herald Tuesday they have contacted lawyers concerning the incident.

Copyright 2018 The Bellingham Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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