Bellingham Fire Department officers on leave after training on dead body

Two firefighters in Bellingham were forced to resign and several others were suspended following a "horrible and misguided" training exercise, according to city officials.

The crew is accused of performing multiple endotracheal intubations on a patient who died during a medical call in July. Firefighters brought the body back to the station, according to Bellingham Fire Chief Bill Newbold. While they were waiting for the body to be picked up by a funeral home, crews took turns performing the medical process.

"This is unheard of and this incident that took place was completely unacceptable," Chief Newbold said. "The focus on training surpassed the other red flags that should have been there."

Chief Newbold says the firefighter in charge should have known this was a serious violation. He told KIRO 7 several firefighters seemed concerned about the training, which typically only happens in the field, in the hospital or on a mannequin. He can't remember the last time someone used a body to train first responders.

"We're going to work to put measures in place to ensure the public's trust and to make sure this doesn't happen again," Chief Newbold said.

Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville said this was a breach of trust against the community.

"When you have someone who has passed away and their family isn't there to take care of them, we are the caretaker. We did not do our duty," Linville said.

The Mayor agrees with the fire department's decision to force two firefighters to resign.

"To me, this was an egregious mistake and sometimes, you don't get a second chance," she said.

Officials are unable to release any information about the victim for privacy reasons.

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