Baltimore Academy Voluntarily Suspends EMS Training

The decision comes in the wake of an investigation into cheating at the fire academy.

In mid-July of this year, MIEMSS told the Fire Department that it had determined students cheated on the practical segment of a test administered about a month before. Clack said that he did not learn of the academy's provisional status until after the June cheating incident came to light, when a copy of the May 2010 letter was appended to correspondence from the state agency.

The city fire academy will reapply for accreditation, Clack said, if the alternative training options -- EMS training by colleges or other jurisdictions -- do not prove to be a better solution.

Clack said that refresher EMS courses, for current firefighters, will continue to be offered on city grounds with city equipment but will be taught by instructors from the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, a division of the University of Maryland, College Park.

New recruits will be able to take EMS classes at nearby colleges, including Baltimore City Community College. The department, Clack said, will try to "strike a deal" for reduced tuition. Now, he said, BCCC offers some classes to department employees for about $12 per credit.

"Maybe, in the end, we'll come up with a better way," Clack said.

The EMS training portion of the city's fire academy employed 11 full-time instructors -- who are now working in the field -- at a cost of about $800,000 per year, he said. If the city decides to do without its own EMS program, he said, the department will try to trim the cost.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service