Baltimore Suspends Program, Probes Cheating

BALTIMORE --

The Baltimore City Fire Academy EMS training program has been suspended pending the outcome of a cheating investigation.

The I-Team's David Collins said the cheating scandal involves as many as 20 cadets. He spoke exclusively Monday with fire department Chief James Clack.

"When something like this happens, it reflects on the whole agency, reflects on me," Clack said. "It reflects on the fire department and the city. Unfortunately, somebody decided to do something they shouldn't have, and we are all going to pay the price for that."

State investigators believe the cheating took place June 14. The Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services, which certifies paramedics and emergency medical technicians, conducted a probe based on a complaint filed with the agency.

According to Collins, the agency's chief compliance officer concluded that, "Students did possess confidential state testing materials prior to the assessment of their cognitive and psychomotor skills learned in class."

According to a source who has been briefed on the case, the fire academy instructor was ordered to provide material in advance of the test, Collins reported.

Clack has asked the Fire Marshal's Office to launch an internal investigation for his department. Collins said Clack expects the investigation to be finished in two weeks. He also confirmed that the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services put him on notice stating: "We need to know what you are going to do to address this."

In addition to the training facility being temporarily closed, Collins said that instructors have been reassigned to field duty.

Experts believe that if the institute isn't satisfied with Clack's response, it could revoke the academy's privilege of providing certified EMS training.

That would force the city to outsource its own EMS program, Collins reported.

"It isn't our intent to get out of the business of teaching our folks emergency medicine. We have to do that," Clack said. "But we can't do it the way we've been doing it."

MIEMS has agreed to retest the 20 cadets provided with the confidential materials. City fire officials emphasize that none of those students have been involved in calls for services, according to Collins.

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