The California Newspaper Publishers Associations Legislative Bulletin out today reports that the Assembly Health Committee has passed Assemblyman Alberto Torricos AB 2917, which would generally require more systematic tracking of the backgrounds and behavior of emergency medical technicians (EMTs)an area whose need for reform was demonstrated by investigative reporting by the Sacramento Bee and others.
But as the CNPA report notes,
AB 2917 contains a provision that would exempt from disclosure written reports and supporting documents regarding EMT(s) submitted to the medical director of a local Emergency Meucal Services agency within 30 days after a disciplinary action has been taken against the employee following an investigation. Investigative information regarding firefighter misconduct would also be exempt.
Ironically, the need for of AB 2917 was brought to light in several investigative stories published by The Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times and The Bakersfield Californian. The stories revealed the lax oversight of EMTs and chronicled such abuses as EMTs injecting themselves with morphine taken from vials in the ambulances and stealing money from unconscious patients being treated. Among the various sources used by the newspapers was information obtained from CPRA requests that on Jan. 1, 2009, may no longer be available if AB 2917 becomes law.
Thus ambulance personnel would join peace officers in the elite ranks of public employees with life or death power over Californians but whose proven record of misconduct, no matter how dangerous, is required to be kept secret.
Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill last year, in part because of its similar secrecy provision, but CNPA thinks he might sign AB 2917 because his people are involved in developing it.