The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
AMBULANCE DRUGS STOLEN
BY JEFF BRANSCOME
Narcotics and sedatives have been reported stolen from Spotsylvania County ambulances for the fourth time this year, despite efforts to prevent thefts.
This past weekend, morphine and Versed went missing from three ambulances at stations at Salem Church and Salem Fields. It’s unclear how much of each drug was stolen.
The Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office is investigating the thefts, but wouldn’t provide detailed information. “They’ve been doing everything they possibly can to solve this for us,” said Kevin Dillard, spokesman for Chancellor Volunteer Fire and Rescue, which helps staff the two stations.
In April and May, Versed, morphine and other drugs to treat patients were stolen in three incidents at Chancellor-area stations.
The county Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management responded by having select supervisors manage the drugs while it changed locks to medication compartments in every ambulance.
Officials also added separate lock boxes in ambulances for morphine and Versed.
The county returned the drugs to ambulances after issuing new keys for the medication containers to about 50 career and volunteer crew members with advanced training, said Eric Lasky, a deputy chief of Chancellor Fire and Rescue.
“We truly hoped that that would help answer some of the problems,” said Lasky, who serves on the county’s Fire and EMS Commission.
After the latest thefts, the drugs were again put under the control of select supervisors, he said.
Lasky said the Sheriff’s Office has interviewed career and volunteer personnel and has administered polygraph tests.
Versed is a brand name for midazolam, which is used to produce drowsiness and to relieve anxiety before surgery or other procedures. Morphine is a narcotic pain reliever used to treat moderate to severe pain.
The county plans to purchase an electronic lock box system for ambulances to store drugs at a cost of $30,000 to $50,000, said Deputy Fire Chief Scott Hechler. The technology will identify who accessed the drugs and when.
“It just provides more accountability,” Hechler said.
Lasky, the Chancellor volunteer, said officials believe the thefts occurred on Sunday. Chancellor volunteers were staffing both stations, and one of the stations also had some career personnel, he said.
But Lasky said none of the on-duty volunteers had keys to the medication compartments.
Career personnel reported the missing drugs Monday during routine equipment inspections, Spotsylvania spokeswoman Kathy Smith said.
Hechler, the deputy fire chief, announced news of the thefts at a fire and rescue commission meeting this week.
“I was stunned,” said Mark Kuechler, a volunteer who is on the fire and rescue commission.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402