July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Litchfield fire department loses privileges to store drugs

LITCHFIELD TWP. — As township trustees search for a new fire chief, the Ohio Department of Pharmacy has revoked the Fire Department’s paramedic drug privileges.

Chris Reed, the compliance and enforcement supervisor for the Department of Pharmacy, said Medina Hospital collected the township’s drug box because there was no paramedic to administer drugs.

“Those drugs can’t be accessible to anyone other than a paramedic who can legally administrate the drugs,” Reed said.

He said the drug box could contain over-the-counter drugs or narcotics.

Litchfield Trustee Nancy Wargo said the township gave the drugs to Medina Hospital on Jan. 11, downgrading the department’s status from a critical-care squad to an intermediate-care squad.

Ambulances responding to emergencies still will have basic drugs, Wargo said, but will have to request mutual aid from a neighboring department if advanced care is needed.

She said response times should not increase because a call for a seriously injured patient automatically triggers a request for mutual aid.

Of the 17 firefighters on the department, Wargo said, 13 are emergency medical technicians. The roster includes one paramedic, but he has not been active with the department in almost a year.

“We still have EMTs that are going out and responding to calls and doing what they have to do,” Wargo said.

Former Fire Chief Joyce Teodecki was the township’s other paramedic, Wargo said, but after she resigned in July, there was no paramedic to monitor the drug box.

Wargo said the issue never came up until this month because the township did not respond to any calls where advanced drugs were needed.

“We’re not real heavy on calls out here because we’re such a small community,” Wargo said. “I think our calls are more basic or intermediate than they are paramedic.”

On average, she said, the department responds to about 180 EMS calls and 35 fire calls a year.

She said someone may have contacted the state to notify the Department of Pharmacy that the township could not possess the drugs.

Although the state does not require an EMS department to have a paramedic drug box, Wargo said it would “always be nice, of course, to have that.”

Reed said the township could have its drug box back as soon as a paramedic joins the staff.

The township actively is recruiting new members for its Fire Department, Wargo said, including paramedics.

She said several people have contacted the township expressing interest in joining.

In the meantime, trustees continue to search for a new fire chief.

When Teodecki resigned, Bill Eyring took over the department. Eyring declined to comment for this story.

Wargo said Eyring has not been ruled out as a potential permanent chief.

Applications for the job were due this week, Wargo said, although she did not know how many people had applied. She said interviews likely would be conducted in the next few weeks.

Until there is a paramedic on staff, however, Wargo said it made sense to give the drugs back to Medina Hospital.

“It’s kind of a waste of the drugs to have them sitting there and expiring if there’s no one available to use them,” she said.

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.