'Neither normal nor acceptable': Bellingham Fire employees trained on newly deceased person

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Action has been taken against Bellingham Fire Department employees for performing medical training on a newly deceased person at Fire Station 1 in July, the fire department said Monday.

The Bellingham Herald said that a deceased patient was taken to Fire Station 1 to await pickup from a funeral home and several department members, including a division chief, practiced multiple intubations on the body.

"In early August I first learned of an incident at Bellingham Fire Department Station 1 during which department personnel successively performed a medical procedure, endotracheal intubation, on a deceased person. This incident was neither normal nor acceptable," Fire Chief Bill Newbold said. "The chief officer directing this activity was immediately placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a compete and thorough investigation."

He added that the actions "of the personnel involved were unacceptable and constitute serious misconduct."

Mayor Kelli Linville said, "What happened was wrong and I want to assure the community that it won't happen again."

According to the Bellingham Herald, the fire department employees had not sought or received permission to perform the procedure from the dead person's family.

The Herald said that as a result, one Bellingham Fire Department veteran officer retired and another resigned. They were not named, but the Herald said the officer who retired had been with the department for 28 years and the officer who resigned had been with the department for 23 years.