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Spotsylvania fire and rescue department taking steps to prevent more drug thefts from its ambulances
Date published: 5/16/2012
Spotsylvania County's Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management is spending about $3,000 in the short term to prevent more drug thefts from its ambulances.
Fire Chief Chris Eudailey said the department is changing locks to medication compartments in every ambulance. It's also adding separate lock boxes in ambulances for morphine and Versed--two drugs that have been reported stolen in recent weeks in three incidents at Chancellor-area stations.
And within the next few months, fire and rescue officials hope to buy new drug compartments for all of the county's ambulances, Eudailey said. The compartments would have technology--potentially a key fob system--to identify who accessed them and when.
Eudailey said he didn't know how much the compartments would cost.
Since April, the Sheriff's Office has been investigating thefts of morphine and Versed from locked ambulance compartments.
On April 20, two 10-mg ampules of morphine and two 5-mg vials of Versed were reported missing from Rescue Station 10 on Gordon Road. Two days later, two more 10-mg ampules of morphine and two 5-mg ampules of Versed were discovered to be missing, this time from Rescue Station 5 on Harrison Road.
Eudailey said he hopes police make an arrest soon. "It doesn't matter whether they're career or volunteer" personnel, he said. "We're going to ensure that they're prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The latest incident
Since then, morphine and Versed have been removed from all ambulances and given to select supervisors, Eudailey said. Those supervisors will respond to calls in which the drugs are needed.
The drugs will be returned to the ambulances after the locks are changed and new keys are issued to providers of advanced life support.
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.
Spotsylvania Fire and EMS Commissioner Eric Lasky praised the county's response to the thefts. "The fact of the matter is, now we're going to go well above what the commonwealth of Virginia requires of us to ensure these things don't happen again," said Lasky, a rescue chief with Chancellor Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
Commissioner LeRon Lewis, a chief with the Spotsylvania Volunteer Rescue Squad, said changing the locks is a great step.
But he's not so sure about replacing the current medicine compartments with what he called "an intricate key fob system."
"It seems to be a pretty large expense to take on," Lewis said.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402