UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - A West Pierce Fire & Rescue firefighter-paramedic was arrested, accused of stealing controlled substances from medic units.
During daily checks, other paramedics noticed some vials of fentanyl, a powerful narcotic, had loose or no protective caps, according to fire officials.
It was reported to the department's Medical Services Officer who manages all controlled drugs. Initially, it was thought to be a possible manufacturing or packaging defect until in mid-March, when a vial of fentanyl was found to have a low volume.
After research and audits of all medic units within the fire department, the MSO reported the issue to the drug manufacturer and the Drug Enforcement Agency during the first week of April. All fentanyl vials in stock were removed from the medic units and along with two unopened packages, which were sent to the manufacturer to be inspected.
When the vials were removed, fentanyl Carpujects -- a syringe-type delivery method -- were substituted in medic units as a replacement.
In late April, the manufacturer confirmed the vials had been intentionally tampered with. Some vials had varying levels of liquid in them, which was found to be saline, a sterile salt water solution, that would not harm a patient.
The Lakewood Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff's Department were notified, and the sheriff’s department then began to investigate.
A week later, tampering was suspected to be going on with both fentanyl and morphine Carpujects.
Random audits of all controlled drugs were done in conjunction with the sheriff’s department and all suspect Carpujects were removed and taken into police custody as evidence.
The suspect is being arraigned in Pierce County court Friday afternoon.
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