Louisville Metro EMS Will Drug Test Staff

by Devin Katayama on August 12, 2011

Louisville Metro EMS has responded to the recent mishandling of medication by two EMS employees. Now, the agency said it plans on adding an extra level of accountability.

Metro EMS wants to prevent this from ever happening again, said Dr. Neal Richmond, executive director of Louisville Metro EMS.

In the next 30 to 45 days the agency will test all of its employees for drugs in their system, he said. EMS employees are already subject to random sampling, but Richmond said he wants his agency to set an example.

“We want to lock down the field side of it to the extent that anybody who has a problem out there we’re going to offer help. But as I said you can’t work here if there is any question about potential abuse of prescription medications or any other controlled substance,” said Richmond.

Metro EMS and the local Teamsters union are still working on the guidelines that all 250 EMS employees will comply with.

If an EMS employee is abusing medication they can self-report to the agency and, by law, Metro EMS must respect that.

“It’s not a good idea to have an accident and for somebody to find drugs on board. On the other hand if you come forward and you say I’ve been having a problem and I’m taking some drugs that I shouldn’t be, then we have to respect that and get those people to the right treatment.”

Richmond says employees that self-report will be subject to suspension or leave depending on the circumstances. They can also seek support or counseling through Metro Government, he said.

But in recent cases Metro EMS employees did not report their problem, said Richmond.

Metro EMS will also work with Metro Police to make tracking and handling medication more secure, he said.

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